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Stray

A Memoir
Written by: Stephanie Danler
Narrated by: Alex McKenna
Length: 7 hrs and 58 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the best-selling author of Sweetbitter, a memoir of growing up in a family shattered by lies and addiction, and of one woman's attempts to find a life beyond the limits of her past. Stray is a moving, sometimes devastating, brilliantly written, and ultimately inspiring exploration of the landscapes of damage and survival.

After selling her first novel - a dream she'd worked long and hard for - Stephanie Danler knew she should be happy. Instead, she found herself driven to face the difficult past she'd left behind a decade ago: a mother disabled by years of alcoholism, further handicapped by a tragic brain aneurysm; a father who abandoned the family when she was three, now a meth addict in and out of recovery. After years in New York City she's pulled home to Southern California by forces she doesn't totally understand, haunted by questions of legacy and trauma. Here, she works toward answers, uncovering hard truths about her parents and herself as she explores whether it's possible to change the course of her history.   

Lucid and honest, heart-breaking and full of hope, Stray is an examination of what we inherit and what we don't have to, of what we have to face in ourselves to move forward, and what it's like to let go of one's parents in order to find a peace - and family - of one's own.

©2020 Stephanie Danler (P)2020 Random House Audio

What the critics say

"I read Stray on the edge of my seat. This is a story of triumph: the triumph of grit, talent, grace, and beauty over the dark pull of inner demons. I'll be thinking about the courage it took to write this book for a long time to come." (Dani Shapiro, author of Inheritance)

"In Stray, Stephanie Danler has created a compulsive, neck-breaking masterpiece. It is pleasurable and full-throatedly sensual beyond words. The abounding pain is unsentimentally rendered but mind-blowingly felt. It's a dark and hot book, a violently provocative one. But it is also quiet, tender. Ultimately this is a kind writer and on every page there is hope." (Lisa Taddeo, author of Three Women)

"Danler's first memoir is as well-written as her novel was.... [A] moving text in which writing is therapeutic and family trauma is useful material." (Kirkus Reviews)

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    5 out of 5 stars

It’s real life and in it’s brokenness, beautiful.

I’m new to audiobooks and found it took on new depth having it read aloud, as if I was curled up, sitting across from a dear old friend as they share stories of the deepest, darkest, most challenging and most triumphant parts of their life and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.
It’s painful and raw, profound and powerful.
It’s real life and in it’s brokenness, beautiful.
Highly recommend!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Concern Therapist
  • 2020-06-03

Beautifully weaved story

This book weaves time and trauma, struggles and success, it flows through lives touched by love, hate, passion, friendship, discovery and self awareness. Danler’s skill at writing brings the reader smoothly into the lives of her characters, you know them and understand their psyches. Beautifully read by Alex McKenna. I recommend this book to every parent, young adult and all readers who enjoy a good book. I only wish it was longer, perhaps there will be a sequel!

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  • Denna Babul
  • 2020-05-31

The dance of the author and her father’s severed relationship is one I have also had to navigate.

Any book about family dynamics pulls me in, but Stray stopped me in my tracks. The dance of the author and her father’s severed relationship is one I have also had to navigate. @smdanler did it beautifully. This book is imperfectly perfect. A must read.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-05-30

Fascinating Story of a Complicated Childhood

Stray is so honest and freshly told that it feels unique among the countless stories of complicated and hurtful childhoods. What made the story bearable was how Stephanie Danler's powerful personality shone through the neglect and abuses of her parents.