To be honest, I had never heard of this book when I found out that it was selected for the July Book Club selection over at Peanut Butter Fingers. When I read the summary however, I immediately thought back to the only other travel/hiking book I have read – A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson – and hoped that this hiking adventure would prove to be more entertaining. Although it was a decent read, I was looking for more human interaction and stories, rather than history-related tangents. It sounded like Wild would definitely promise more human emotion…
THE FIRST LINES
“My solo three-month hike on the Pacific Crest Trail had many beginnings. There was the first, flip decision to do it, followed by the second, more serious decision to actually do it, and then the long third beginning, composed of weeks of shopping and packing and preparing to do it. There was the quitting my job as a waitress and finalizing my divorce and selling almost everything I owned and saying goodbye to my friends and visiting my mother’s grave one last time.”
FROM THE PUBLISHER
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.
Copyright 2012 Alfred A. Knopf
While perusing reviews on Goodreads to see what others though, I came across Allison’s review and she put into words exactly what I was thinking:
“This is not a book I would typically choose to read, but I’m glad that I read something different. This blunt, honest memoir recounts Cheryl Strayed’s 1,100 mile solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail from California to Oregon when she was 26-years-old. During this time, she describes her experiences on the trail in a way that made me feel as if I were walking alongside her, all the while weaving in flashbacks about her broken past and reflecting on her life. I found myself amazed by Cheryl’s courage, persistence, and determination; this is one strong woman who refuses to give up! While this book was slow at times and nothing extremely exciting happened, it kept me interested and I was intrigued by the author’s character. Throughout the book, I wached her grow from an ill-prepared, inexperienced hiker to the “Queen of the PCT” with a renewed outlook and deeper understanding of herself.”
There was one part of the book that I really connected with, about 25% into it, where the author so vulnerably discussed her desires and needs…and then so accurately dismissed them with her current state of mind. How very human, I thought. There are many passages like this one throughout the book which allowed me to feel like I could actually connect with the author – and thus – why I was so interested in her perspective.
“I’d set out to hike the trail so that I could reflect upon my life, to think about everything that had broken me and make myself whole again. But the trust was, at least so far, I was consumed only with my most immediate and physical suffering. Since I’d begun hiking, the struggles of my life had only fluttered occasionally through my mind. Why, oh why, had my good mother died and how is it I could live and flourish without her? How could my family, once so close and strong, have fallen apart so swiftly and soundly in the wake of her death? What had I done when I’d squandered my marriage with Paul – the solid, sweet husband who’d loved me so steadfastly? Why had I gotten myself in a sad tangle with heroin and Joe and sex with men I hardly knew? These were the questions I’d held like stones all through the winter and spring, as I prepared to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. The ones I’d wept over and wailed over, excavated in excruciating detail in my journal. I’d planned to put them all to rest while hiking the PCT. I’d imagined endless meditations upon sunsets or while staring out across pristine mountain lakes. I’d thought I’d weep tears of cathartic sorrow and restorative joy each day of my journey. Instead, I only moaned, and not because my heart ached. It was because my feet did and my back did and so did the still-open wounds all around my hips. And also, during that second week on the trail – when spring was on the very cusp of turning officially to summer - because I was so hot I thought my head would explode.”
Definitely an interesting read if you are looking for something outside of your comfort zone.