29 March 2015

Review of Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Title:  Wild:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail 
Author:  Cheryl Strayed
Publication Information:  2012 by Knopf
How I Got This Book:  I purchased a copy online.

Goodreads Synopsis:  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. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.

My Thoughts:  I loved this book.  Go read it. :)

 Oh, you want more than that?  OK, fine...

A lot has been said about the risks Strayed took in hiking the trail alone, without any sort of training ahead of time, and without much of a clue as to what to expect.  OK, yes.  Probably not the best idea in the world.  But I looked past all of that towards the personal journey she was on.

The first part of the book details Strayed's past and how she got to the point of hiking the trail.  She had an unusual childhood in a very primitive house.  Her mom got sick and it destroyed her and her family.  She went down a negative path, filled with drugs and lots of promiscuous sex, which led to the breakup of her marriage.  For me, this part kind of lagged at times.  You need the backstory in order to understand what comes later, but sometimes it felt like she got a little repetitive here.  For re-reads, I will definitely skim this section.

She decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail as a way to finding a path to redemption.  She learns a lot about herself along the way.

I've had a year filled with a lot of change and a lot of grief--quitting a job, moving, caring for my grandfather while he was in the hospital, and then losing him.  There were tons of moments along the way where I wanted to just run away and do something so physically taxing that I could leave behind all of the emotions.  Like Strayed, I wanted to be so consumed with the very act of making it through the day that I couldn't focus on what was going on in my regular life.  Reading about Strayed's own journey helped me process a lot of things.

I loved how open and honest and raw her writing was.  She let it all out there, warts and all.  She spoke in a voice I was able to relate to, though I have not had the same struggles or experiences she has had.

Aside from the personal, inner journey, I loved reading about the outer journey of hiking that kind of distance.  I really enjoyed reading Bill Bryson's journey through the Appalachian Trail in A Walk in the Woods.  It appealed to my inner travel bug.  So much so that I told my mom that I want to go on a major hiking trip at some point.  And so much so that I am going to start making it a point to hit a local trail on a regular basis.

Bottom line--for me this book was appealing on more than one level and I would highly recommend it to people interested in the physical adventure and to people interested in the inner journey.  Not a "fun" read (in the sense of light), but definitely a good read that will make you think.

1 comment:

  1. All right, all right - I'll try to get over my issues with Strayed's stupidity and recklessness and give this one a shot. I am being pretty judgmental for a person that hasn't always made the best choices. Although I'm pretty sure I would have packed more useful items and fewer condoms than what I've heard Strayed packed!

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