Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Home to the Wilderness: A Personal Journey, Sally Carrighar relates her unhappy life from her childhood to the moment when she discovered her life’s calling—to be a naturalist. She presents her story in nine chapters and provides eight pages of photographs. The narrative is very complete, with Carrighar providing background information as it is needed.

Carrighar begins her autobiography by recalling pleasant afternoon outings with her father that were interrupted by her mother’s jealousy. Chapter 1, “The Blast Furnace,” also explores Carrighar’s relationship with her grandparents and discusses the discovery that Carrighar had a damaged heart valve. “Climb a Steep Ladder” deals with the author’s love for music and with her decision to look after herself following a terrible incident with her mother. In addition, this chapter details her traumatic experiences after her ruptured appendix, an event that marked the end of her childhood at only nine years of age. During this period, Carrighar met John Craig, who played a brief but important role in her life.

“Legacies from Alice” deals with her mother’s accusation that Carrighar was exactly like Aunt Alice, who had brought disgrace to the family by living with a man to whom she was not married. The author also explains how a stray dog became her constant companion until her mother forced her to get rid of it. Like many children in abusive situations who dream of a...

(The entire section is 508 words.)