A Book in Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Monday, January 5, 2015

Hope you all had great weekends! I spent mine going to yoga on Friday, skiing on Saturday, and going to yoga on Sunday! On a scale of endlessly lying on the couch to running a marathon, this was closer to a marathon weekend for me as far as activity levels! (Though I use "marathon" as a metaphor, as I'm no where close to running anything over 3 miles long.) Despite all the exercise, I still had time to read. I'm almost done with Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail and I'm loving it just as I loved Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things

My mom has already finished Wild, and actually whipped up a review, so I thought I'd share it here with you all as I wrap up reading. Enjoy!


Cheryl Strayed’s solo hiking of the Pacific Crest Trail in Wild takes place “back in the day” when you planned your trip from a guide book and sporadic contact with the outside world was through pay phones and the U.S. postal service.  Having decided to hike the trail so that she could reflect on her mother’s death, her divorce, and her family’s disintegration, she ends up being consumed with just hiking the trail and all of the ensuing physical suffering.  This is no walk in the park.  It’s not even a day hike.  With boots too small and a backpack she dubs “Monster,” every part of her body hurts.  She has to cross rockslides, downed trees, and treacherous patches of ice and snow, and encounters various wildlife including bears and rattlesnakes.  Hiking some stretches with over twenty pounds of water, she still runs out!  No iPod to listen to, she keeps herself entertained by mashing remembered songs together, but often just ends up moaning in pain while she plods along, longing for nothing but food and water and to be able to put her backpack down. 

Definitely plot-driven, her descriptions of the scenery are lacking, but since she has to focus on the uneven trail, she really can’t admire the gorgeous views anyway.  This deficiency in the book will undoubtedly be made up for in the movie.  While on the trail she realizes how extremely limited her choices are and how she simply just has to do what she really doesn’t want to do.  The only two options she has are to either go back in the direction she came from, or to go forward in the direction she intended to go.  There really aren’t any other choices, and without drugs, alcohol, or sex as distractions, at least not for the majority of the time, she finally forgives herself for her past mistakes, learns from them, and moves on.

*image via @reesewitherspoon on instagram

She admits she is lucky to have safely pulled this off (and I don’t mean her toenails), and recognizes her camping experiences and austere lifestyle growing up provided some good preparation.  As an inexperienced hiker, though, I’m amazed she was even able to actually stay on the trail.  Cheryl Strayed, who automatically says “yes” instead of “no” to almost all situations, is the antithesis of me.  She was gutsy to even think of attempting this hike, and I enjoyed reading her experiences, especially since it turned out well.  This book doesn’t prompt me to consider a long trek, but does make me want to see the movie.  I’ll stick with bike riding on well-marked, flat asphalt trails, with the occasional scurrying chipmunk.  I’m resolved to text my daughters daily, and to hopefully plan a trip to Crater Lake.  We can enjoy a nice day hike, and if we meet any trekkers, offer them a shower, wash their clothes, and swap books. 


In short, if you're thinking of binge reading before heading to the theaters: do it, do it, do it! The book is addicting and moving. I've adored Reese Witherspoon since her days as Elle Woods, and am looking forward to watching her portray an author I've recently come to admire. But first, got to go finish this mesmerizing memoir!


p.s. A post with a collection of inspiring Cheryl Strayed quotes.
p.p.s. Reese Witherspoon is my favorite celebrity instagrammer.
p.p.p.s. I love reading book reviews, and am happy to share guest reviews! Feel free to e-mail me your reviews and we can work together to share them! (Contact info at the bottom of my about page.)

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