HarperCollins Speakers Bureau

Aspen Matis

Bestselling Author of Girl in the Woods: A Memoir


  • Campus Sexual Assault
  • Rape Culture
  • Healing From Sexual Assault
  • Sexual Assault Prevention
  • Extreme Thru-Hiking/Backpacking: The Pacific Crest Trail
  • Writing as a Means Through Which to Transform Trauma Into Art/Beauty, to Heal


New York
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Aspen Matis is the author of Girl in the Woods: A Memoir.

After being raped on her second night at college, Matis dropped out. Depressed and shocked that her school didn't believe and protect her, she sought solace in a remote wilderness; she found the Pacific Crest Trail and hiked the footpath’s entire length, over 2,000 miles from Mexico to Canada.

In Girl in the Woods (William Morrow), the grippingly honest and inspiring memoir of adventure, Matis recounts her journey. Trekking into the desert, Aspen left her sheltered suburban life behind, searching for a way to heal. A 19-year-old girl alone, isolated, and lost, she stepped into shimmering frost, silent glades, climbed desolate mountain passes and met rattlesnakes, bears and fellow desert pilgrims. Exhausted after each 30-mile-day’s walk, at times on the verge of starvation, she faced perils that forced her to confront her fears and passivity—and to change. She walked towards new strength, a better perspective on her past, and a new life.

Inspired by the beauty and turmoil enveloping her on the trail, the author wrote poems, personal accounts, and dispatches from her tent. After moving to New York City, she published a popular account of her experiences in The New York Times’ Modern Love column to outstanding praise.

Matis is a Riggio Honors Fellow at The New School and a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, The PEN American Center, and the Authors Guild. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times, Tin House, Marie Claire, Salon, and Psychology Today. She lives in Greenwich Village, where she is working on a novel.

Praise for Girl in the Woods:

“Beautiful and so wildly engaging.”
-- Lena Dunham

“Brave and poetic. Aspen Matis is one of the few genetic writers.”
-- Ben Folds, frontman of Ben Folds Five

“A lovely tribute to the healing power of wilderness.”
-- Nicholas Kristof, winner of the Pulitzer Prize

“This is a very brave book—because there is an open wound in Girl in the Woods, and it never really closes. It becomes a new organ—of doubt, questioning—that remakes both the body and the mind.”
-- Greil Marcus, Rolling Stone rock critic and New York Times bestselling author

“Aspen Matis reveals wisdoms that are gems—bright and inspiring. This book will astonish you.”
--Shelly Oria, author of New York 1, Tel Aviv 0

“Soulful, heartfelt, and transcendent. Girl in the Woods teaches us that writing is a way to heal, empower ourselves, and turn our worst experiences into beautiful art.”
-- Kenan Trebincevic, author of The Bosnia List

“Mercy. I love this story.”
--Cheryl Strayed, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Wild

“Girl in the Woods is a breathtaking, gorgeous and profoundly wise book. I cried my way through it. Every young woman, old woman, man and boy should read it.”
-- Bonnie Nadzam, author of Lamb, winner of the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize

“A mesmerizing journey from tragedy to triumph. Aspen shows us how any girl—even the once lost and disempowered—can transform herself and become the director of her own life.”
--Caity Lotz, actress, award-winning AMC show Mad Men

“Told with exceptional beauty and extraordinary confidence. Matis is a once-in-a-generation talent.”
-- Bryan Hurt, author of Everyone Wants to Be an Ambassador to France

“Compelling and intense... should be essential reading in dorm rooms across the country.”
-- Interview Magazine

“Gripping...a must-read.”
-- Cosmopolitan

“Matis writes vividly of the culture of the PCT—the special treats the locals put out for hikers to find, called ‘trail magic,’ or the ‘trail angels’ who host hikers in small towns along the way—and she is bold in her willingness to expose her psychic wounds.”
-- Kirkus Reviews

-- Booklist

“A brave book by a brave wild child writer. Matis’s journey is more than a riveting trip up the Pacific Crest Trail, it’s a story of a young woman who won’t let anything -be it rattlesnakes or ignorance about the trauma of rape-stop her from rediscovering her own power.”
-- Leigh Newman, author of Still Points North

“…Rebirth is palpable.”
-- Library Journal

“An important book of hope and healing.”
-- Abby Sher, author of Amen, Amen, Amen

“With the pacing of a page-turning novel, Matis has written an emotionally honest, poignant and poetic debut memoir.”
-- Alice Feiring, author of The Battle for Wine and Love

“Girl In The Woods is eminently compelling, and taken as a whole is a valuable portrait of an actual human’s experience that hides in a rape statistic.”
-- AV Club

“[An] excellent memoir.”
-- Dover Post

“...a triumphant journey that ELLE readers found “beautifully written,” gripping,” and “brave.”
-— Elle

“...a story about the power to overcome a crippling emotional trauma...”
-- Pop Sugar

“...a bold story of a woman finding her strength and self-reliance that’s told with honesty and intensity.”
-- Bust Magazine

“Matis writes with a rawness that refuses to hold back...filled with small moments of awe...I was struck by how far she had come…she seemed years more mature than the young woman at the start of the journey. Girl in the Woods is a touching memoir that...unleashes clarity.”
-— Ms. magazine