Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Book blurb: 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.
Review of the book:
I am finally done reading this book after procrastinating for more than a year. Last year I started reading this book and then gave up because I was not in a very good mood myself. And on top of that, more than 100 pages of this book was just whining and that kind of made me chuck it. But I am so glad I read it. It may not be the best book on PCT, but still I liked it.
This is definitely NOT the book to pick up, if you are looking for a book that talks about PCT in detail. This is also not a book to pick up if you are planning on hiking it yourself. Also this is not the book to read, if you want to read a happy book or if you are feeling down yourselves.
But what I did realize after reading the book is that hiking for such a long distance, especially when you are broke is not as simple as it sounds. I think I will never take my life for granted again.
This is mostly about Cheryl’s journey, more of a mental/emotional journey than the physical one. Initially I could not understand and relate to her grief and I really felt she was crazy. I mean, a sane person would never divorce a loving husband because her mother died. And a sane person would never hike the PCT all by themselves. But as I went through the book, I realized that she was not completely sane when she started hiking.
I could relate to her life a bit as I have seen my mother go through the same phase when she lost her mother at around the same age that Cheryl lost. It is not just about your mother dying, but it has to do with the way they die. Seeing your mother suffer from cancer day in and day out and silently praying that she doesn’t die can be torturous. It can mentally harm you in ways you won’t realize.
Not just that, an abusive father and a step father who cut his relations with them as soon as their mother died can lead to mental problems. She agrees that she was in need of professional help too. I feel she is an extremely brave woman and I wish I could be like her. She hiked eleven hundred miles alone on PCT being a woman. She was fortunate to have met many interesting people on her hike.
She overcame the problems in her life and is now probably leading a happy life. This book made me want to hike at least a part of the PCT someday. When the book started, it was basically about her complaining about her life, but it ended very well. After a point, I got so interested that I did not want to put the book down. But the first half is just whining. And that could discourage people from reading the second half, which was pretty good.
The only part about the book that I did not like was her attitude towards men. I mean, she was hitting on every single man she met. She was ready to sleep with any stranger she met on the trail. I just don’t get that.
Men taking advantage of women is something I can understand, as I have seen such men. It was a very dangerous decision on her part to hike alone. Anything could have happened to her. She was just lucky, as she mentions.
I hope more women don’t venture into such foolish hikes alone by getting inspired from this book. It can be really dangerous!
A good one time read. I am now looking forward to the movie releasing this year.
I loved these lines from the book:
“I never got to be in the driver’s seat of my own life,” she’s wept to me once… “I always did what someone else wanted me to do. I’ve always been someone’s daughter or mother or wife. I’ve never just been me.”
I will give this book 3.5 out of 5.
Some links I found interesting:
- 7 things that didn’t make it into wild
- Video: talking with Cheryl about her book
- Book club interview of Cheryl at Rumpus
- I read couple of posts from her column at Rumpus, where she wrote under the name “Dear Sugar”.