Title: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Genre: Memoir, Non-fiction, Travel, Adventure
First Published: 20th March 2012
‘How wild it was, to let it be.’
INFO | Goodreads
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 opinion on this book has changed very little since I did my last post for the Words & Geeks Book Club.
Surprised by the personal details of Cheryl’s life – she openly admits to cheating on her husband and drug-taking – it took me a little while to accept her for who she was. I disagreed with her choices often during the hike, but it would take a heartless reader not to want her to succeed in her journey.
As she progresses along the trail, you get the sense that the burdens of her past are falling away from her, as if she is being reborn with each step. In a way, the fact I didn’t identify completely with who Cheryl was made the book even more personal – she presented herself with great honesty, which in itself deserves merit. As I said in my Halfway Checkpoint, I quickly realised that the walk only held significance if paired with the emotional trauma and poor decisions of her past – without Cheryl’s unfortunate suffering there would have been no Wild.
I often find with memoirs that it is near impossible to separate the author from the book. I may have had mixed feelings towards Cheryl, but there is no doubt that she is a brave and inspiring woman and I commend her for her epic achievement.
The book was well-written, witty in places and emotionally deep in others. Certain themes were repeated too often at times (her fleeting lust over many of the men she meets on the trail, for example) but overall there seems to be a comfortable balance between Cheryl’s life history and information about the trail. If you’re interested in learning about the Pacific Crest Trail, you can visit the website (which even has a page all about Wild).
By the end of the book, I felt very invested in Cheryl’s journey, and was so proud of her for her accomplishment. This book is truly inspiring, and reminds us that if you put in your all then anyone can achieve something remarkable.
Star Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4/5)
Has anyone else read this book? What were your thoughts on Cheryl and her experiences with the trail?