About the Book

Everything changes when Julie Riddle’s parents stumble across the wilderness survival guide How to Live in the Woods on Pennies a Day. In 1977, when Riddle is seven years old, she and her family—fed up with the challenges of city life—move to the foot of the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness in northwestern Montana. For three years they live in the primitive basement of the log house they are building by hand in the harsh, remote Montana woods. Meanwhile, haunted by the repressed memory of childhood sexual abuse, Riddle struggles to come to terms with the dark shadows that plague her amid entrenched cultural and gender mores enforced by enduring myths of the West.

As Riddle grapples with her own painful secrets, she discovers the world around her and its impact on people—the demands of living in a rural, mountain community dependent on boom-and-bust mining and logging industries, the health and environmental crises of the W. R. Grace asbestos contamination and EPA cleanup, and the healing beauty of the Montana wild. More than simply a memoir about family and place, The Solace of Stones explores Riddle’s coming of age and the complexities of memory, loss, and identity borne by a family homesteading in the modern West.



“…Riddle’s gorgeous prose palpably conveys the unfettered joys of a nature-centric life, particularly in the earliest days of the family’s adventure.” —Jenn McKee, Literary Mama

“[Riddle] writes with admirable grace, clear and straightforward, with just the right touch of poetic sensibility.” —David Crisp, Last Best News

“A superb, eloquent memoir that sings with imagery.” —JeriAnn Geller, Booktrib

“Riddle captures the brave, sweet spirit of her younger self, and she elucidates such difficult subjects as abused persons’ views on having children of their own.” —Dane Carr, Booklist

“Evocative prose illuminates the narrative’s people and places…” —Kirkus Reviews

“Heartbreaking, courageous, and written with rare beauty. The Solace of Stones will be a Western classic.”—Mary Clearman Blew, author of All But the Waltz

The Solace of Stones is intimate, eloquent, and, at times, pierces the heart. Julie Riddle is a natural storyteller, and her tale of innocence, loss, and a family’s log cabin in the Montana mountains is beautifully revealed in exquisite, sensory prose.”—Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic and Desire

“This is not a sentimental story of recovery—it is a powerful story of renewal.”—Sherry Simpson, author of Dominion of Bears: Living with Wildlife in Alaska