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Babe in the Woods: Building a Life One Log at a Time

by Yvonne Wakefield

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At age eighteen, in 1974, Yvonne sets out to build a home from trees on eighty acres she's bought on an Oregon mountainside. Log by log she creates a cabin and heals from an orphaned past, finding a new family in the forest and with people in a valley named John Day. This true story of one woman's survival in the wilderness puts an honest and gritty face on the fantasy of living alone in the forest. Readers of My Side of the Mountain and Into the Wild--and fans of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and Walden alike--will eagerly follow along on the journey through this candid, revealing account. Babe in the Woods includes original artwork and ledgers, further authenticating the construction of this three-story log cabin built by hand from trees on land Yvonne still owns today. It is the first in a three-book series about her relationship with woodsy things in a place of risk and isolation but also peace, quiet beauty, and repose.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a story about Yvonne Wakefield, a teenager who moved to Oregon , bought 80 acres out in the woods and went about building a log cabin from scratch with the help of a local man. Her parents were dead and she and siblings lived in foster homes. When old enough she took off on her own and ended up in Oregon. Trees were cut down from her property, stripped of bark, notched and put in place. Other locals gave advise on where to buy items she needed like where to buy a woodburning stove, buy tools and have lumber planed for floor boards . She found windows at a an abandoned mining town. She seriously injured herself several times while working on the cabin and was lucky she didn't die. Fell off ladder from braking ribs, got cut a couple times by a saw and scraped her knuckles to the bone. The closest town was John Day, Oregon population about 1700. A few of the locals became friends and helped her when she needed it the most. She became a strong woman during the construction of the cabin. ( )
flagLarryMicheli | Mar 11, 2016 | edit | ( )
  LarryMicheli | May 23, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Inspiring, autobiographical, coming-of-age story of a young woman brave enough to travel cross country and undertake building a log cabin outside a small farming community in central Oregon. Incredible! I hated coming to the end of the book. I want to know more! Yvonne is planning two more books in the series. Can't wait to read them.

I received a copy of this book from Librarything in exchange for a fair review. ( )
  kpossible | Feb 6, 2017 |
Within the first couple of chapters of this book, you may find yourself comparing the author to Cheryl Strayed, she of the book Wild. But, while both are women on a journey of self-discovery, I think that is where the comparison ends. But more about that later.
The author, by all rights, should be one of those lost souls that we see begging on street corners, or camped out under a bridge underpass. She had so many strikes against her in her early life, that it is amazing to see her resilience in bouncing back and becoming a wonderful author.
Orphaned at a young age, quite traumatically, Wakefield and her siblings were passed from relative to relative, who siphoned off the children's trust fund the best they could. After these "family" members were caught, the siblings were split up and sent off to foster care. There, from what I can surmise, Wakefield was sexually abused, and turned out again, this time to live in undesirable conditions and forced to make it on her own.
Despite all these setbacks, (and the substance abuse that came with them), the author keeps her eye on her future dream of owning a piece of land and building a cabin on it. Taking what little was left of her trust, she trundles off to Oregon, buying an undeveloped piece of land in the wilderness and starting her cabin. I think that I have never seen someone more unprepared to do this than the author. Her unflinching chronicles of the mistakes she made is breathtaking. How she survived is beyond me. BUT....she never once gave up, teaching herself what she needed to know by reading old books, and enlisting the help of friends she made along the way. And what friends! She is fantastic at describing the quirks and foibles of the people who help her, and learns the lesson that almost everyone, whatever walk of life they come from, is willing to help given a little kindness and respect in turn.
The author's descriptions of the land around her, the weather, the items she uses to build the cabin, and of the people are great. She really has a way of making you feel what she is feeling, and see what she was seeing. It's a rare gift that not many authors have.
In the beginning of the review, I mentioned the uber-popular Cheryl Strayed book, Wild. This book could be compared to that, being about a young woman on a journey of self-discovery and the setbacks faced on that path, except for one thing. Strayed comes across as a brash, somewhat unlikeable person, who seems to be out for herself. Wakefield is a totally likeable person, who you cannot help but want to help and see good things come to. I think the friends she made during the book also saw this, and is why they were so willing to help her. She really does seem like a rare individual.
This book is the first of a planned trilogy, and I for one cannot wait to read the next ones. In the interest of full disclosure, I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. And, in this case, my review cannot do the book justice! ( )
  1Randal | Aug 29, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Yvonne Wakefield's early life was horrific so when she was 18 and first able to, she left Minnesota to build a log cabin by herself on newly bought land in Oregon. It's the 1970s, she's 100 lbs soaking wet and she has no wilderness skills at all. But she is tenacious and wins the goodwill of the eccentric locals and builds her cabin. This story would appeal to fans of Wild by Cheryl Strayed. However intriguing the premise, I found her prose too overwrought to be enjoyable. ( )
  amyblue | Jun 6, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is a quick easy read about relationships. The story is apparently a work of non-fiction based on journal sources of the author. It begins with her decision to build a log cabin in the mountains of Oregon following the death of her parents. This was an interesting decision, considering she is only 18 years old when she finally gets access to her inheritance, she has no skills in construction at all and even has to read a book as to how to fell a tree.

You read about her relationship with her family and friends. She claims to have a concern about association with strangers but she soon learns that she needs help if the dream of building a log house on her newly bought 80 acres of raw forest is to become true. The men of John Day, Oregon come to her rescue... It starts with a cafe owner, Emery, who suggests a man, Jim that would help her build the house, then she meets another male who joins in the construction and lives with her for a while in a platonic relationship, then there are suppliers of materials and tools who more often than not go out of their way to help her. Not all males are the best as one tries to trade goods for favours and another provides less than quality goods. The former is repulsed while the latter is outed by other men but she still remains friends with him. For a woman who said she was leery of strangers she certainly puts a lot of trust in these men and for the most part she is lucky in that they turn out to WANT to help her. Her relationships with women of the town seem to be more distant. Except for the woman in the family that has a place near her's.

Other than brief descriptions of the land as she is constructing the house, she does not really talk about what attracts her to the land in detail and personally I was looking for something along that vein. She is an independent woman and seems to like it that way. The story is easy to read and apparently there is to be a followup story. ( )
  Lynxear | Apr 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
This is an awesome book, that kept me fully engaged from the 1st laugh-out-loud chapter to the end. Yvonne has a wonderfully descriptive writing style that enables you to see the places and people in her book. I found it so interesting and well written, I read it in a couple of days. Her dream of a cabin at age 14 was a fixed point and dream for her to focus on that helped her get past the death of her parents. It was a way to heal, even in the midst of the difficulties she encountered actually moving her dream out of her head and into concrete realization. There were also the very real emotional struggles, the process of working through them, as we all must in this messy world. I am eagerly waiting for books 2 and 3! Her dogged determination is wonderful and inspiring. We can all learn a lesson in not giving up in the blackest of times, the sun will always shine again and healing does come.
added by apex157x | editLibraryThing, Apex157x (Mar 22, 2016)
 
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At age eighteen, in 1974, Yvonne sets out to build a home from trees on eighty acres she's bought on an Oregon mountainside. Log by log she creates a cabin and heals from an orphaned past, finding a new family in the forest and with people in a valley named John Day. This true story of one woman's survival in the wilderness puts an honest and gritty face on the fantasy of living alone in the forest. Readers of My Side of the Mountain and Into the Wild--and fans of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and Walden alike--will eagerly follow along on the journey through this candid, revealing account. Babe in the Woods includes original artwork and ledgers, further authenticating the construction of this three-story log cabin built by hand from trees on land Yvonne still owns today. It is the first in a three-book series about her relationship with woodsy things in a place of risk and isolation but also peace, quiet beauty, and repose.

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