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. (summary and book cover courtesy of goodreads.com)
Wild was a book that I am split on. The beginning of the book was painful for me to get through as it provided the background to what initiated the interest in the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Essentially the first few chapters trace Cheryl’s life imploding after her mother’s death. Whining, tears, sex, drugs – she went through them all in an almost stream of consciousness description. In fairness, I have not experienced the death of a loved one so close, but there were a lot of times I just wanted to give her a HUGE kick in the ass. Others who have experienced a similar loss may disagree with my tough love and not find it quite so annoying.
That being said, once Cheryl did make it to the PCT, I enjoyed the book thoroughly. She is a talented writer and did a fantastic job describing what could have been a boring description of a long-distance hike. Her impulsive decision to hike, and therefore lack of preparation, in many ways provides both humor and mild suspense. I enjoyed the “take it as it comes” attitude and was engrossed to see if she would make it to the end.
Warnings: Drug Use, Sexual Content
Rating: 3 stars!
Who Should Read It? Travel/hiking/adventure story enthusiasts who can put up with some whining and explicit moments.