Goodreads says: 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 had never heard of this book until a friend mentioned it on her blog. As is so often the case, I bought it based on that because she so often likes the same type of books I do.
Anxious to get to it, I started the book while eating lunch at a local restaurant. It was obvious pretty quickly that I could not read it there unless I wanted to be entertainment to the rest of the diners. When Cheryl describes her mother dying of cancer, immediately my eyes teared up thinking about my mother withering away from that horrible disease. While I can say that I have come to accept my mother’s death, I can also say that it is something I will never fully get over. Even all these years later, I miss her terribly.
So, with reluctance, I put the book away until I got to work later that night. While it was still difficult at work, there were also enough going on that I couldn’t dwell on death long enough to cry.
Cheryl is crushed by her mother’s death to the point where her entire life spins out of control in ways that might seem unrelated but of course was. I loved the book – I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed reading it.
Cheryl makes me feel like I’m on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) as she describes the scenery, her loneliness, hardships and screwups. If ever I had once thought about walking that or the Appalachian Trail, I don’t anymore. NOT because I don’t think it would be a crowning achievement in my life but because I know I wouldn’t have her fortitude. I would have given up so many times along the trail – first bear sighted, first rattlesnake rattling, not to mention the sore feet – I wouldn’t have stayed with it.
The author is brutally honest about her shortcomings, her short-sightedness in preparing for the trail and her triumphs. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves the outdoors or is thinking about taking a spiritual journey in the wilderness to find themselves. I give it an A++.