Book Review: Wild
A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.
Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
I couldn't put this book down! I read this in 4 days and it was such an enjoyable read. It's kind of like "Eat, Pray, Love" but way more rugged and intense. This was written just about 20 years after the hike took place on the Pacific Coast trail. I think this time lapse was for the best because Cheryl Strayed comes at the material with a much more sophisticated look on the experience. I think if she wrote it in her 20's, it would have been a completely different book...because, well....she was kind of insane and immature. Who takes opium from strange men who live in their truck?! I don't think I would have liked Cheryl in real life, but I certainly admire her tenacity and what she did. She makes some really dumb choices, and it's pretty much a miracle that she didn't die on the trail. Told from her own reflection back on the experience and how her life has changed for the better in the 10 years since, I really enjoyed it!
Interesting side story: Cheryl Strayed's father left her and her family when she was young, which she talks about a LOT in the book and how it affected her. Through publishing this book, her half-sister actually made the connection and realized Cheryl was her half-sister, and reached out to her. I don't think this was a happy or joyous occasion - Cheryl has a lot of animosity toward her father, but it is an interesting story, and hopefully Cheryl can finally find some peace with her father. You can read or hear the story here: