A while ago I posted a list of books to read while you were waiting for the book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed. Finally my wait is over. It was a long, but worthwhile, wait and now I have read the book and can say I am very impressed. I think what really impressed me about this book was the author’s honesty. Strayed doesn’t hesitate to show herself in an unflattering light, and she doesn’t bend the story to show herself as a hero or something we should strive to be. Strayed tells her story, flaws and all. Wild chronicles Strayed’s experiences as she spent a summer hiking the Pacific Crest Trail alone. The Pacific Crest Trail is a hiking trail that stretches from Mexico to Canada.
Strayed was not an avid long distance hiker prior to this adventure. She had experience hiking and camping, but she admits right away she had never gone backpacking before and wasn’t fully prepared for the challenges she would encounter during her hike. Unless you count her enormous backpack “monster” as a character, which by the end of the book I started to, Strayed hiked over 1100 miles by herself. Despite her solitude, she meets a large cast of characters on her hike. These brief encounters kept Strayed from abandoning her hike, they kept her motivated, and helped her along the way. Besides relaying the events of her hike, much of the book is about the author’s childhood, the death of her mother a few years before, her divorce, and the pain caused by all these events. This is not a hiking book, and this is not a Pacific Crest Trail guide book; it is most definitely a memoir. Wild is the story of how the author healed herself. At the beginning of the hike Cheryl Strayed is not in a good place emotionally, but by the end of the book the reader is confident Strayed will be okay.
Don’t think this book is just a personal journal. Strayed is an excellent writer, and this book is well-crafted and full of polished writing. I rooted for Strayed the whole way, and you will too. I definitely recommend this book and think it would be of interest to most people, even those who aren’t fans of the great outdoors.