Review: Wild – Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail 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.

When I read books about women my age doing things I would never dream to do, I’m filled with envy, but reading about Cheryl Strayed’s decision to repair herself by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was both empowering and sad. After her mother dying, her marriage dissolving, and becoming a heroin user, she was at her lowest point and decided to hike the PCT without having any backpacking or hiking experience.

There are a lot of mixed reviews about this book because people think Cheryl Strayed was shortsighted, idiotic, self-absorbed, and made some bad decisions. While I was listening to this book on audio, I found myself annoyed by some of the decisions she made, but I didn’t judge her for them. Her life had fallen apart, she was distant from her family, and she was being self-destructive. She isn’t the first woman to respond to grief that way, and I doubt she’ll be the last.

I liked Cheryl, and this story was utterly moving. She was extremely honest and brave while writing about all her decisions, good and bad. She didn’t see her trip through rose-colored glasses, she didn’t hide anything or deceive the reader by making herself seem smarter than she was. She was up-front with just how utterly unprepared she was to hike the PCT and the ugly results of her long journey on her, both physically and psychologically.

This was a really well-written, interesting, engaging book and I enjoyed it. I would definitely recommend it to others.

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