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. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
This memoir made Cheryl Strayed famous, and was turned into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon. I read her collection of advice columns Tiny Beautiful Things last year and loved it, and so I thought I’d give Wild a go. It is a very frank and moving memoir of Cheryl’s epic hike along the thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, which travels from the scorching heat of the Mojave Desert through to the icy forests of Washington State. As Cheryl walks, she reflects on her overwhelming grief for her mother, who died of cancer much too young, and her regret for the way she sought oblivion in sex and drugs, causing her marriage to fail and her relationship with her siblings to deteriorate. Her honesty is astonishing and liberating, but I hope it did not cause any more damage to those in her family. I have always wanted to do a long hike somewhere beautiful, and this book is very inspiring about the power of such a challenging adventure. She writes:
I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.