Book Talk · Books · Review

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

13367541Book: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Author: Cheryl Strayed

Pages: 318

Published by Alfred A. Knopf: Borzoi Books March 20, 3012

Genre(s): autobiography, non-fiction, memoir

Rating: 5 stars

Series? No

Plot: (Goodreads synopsis) 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.

My Thoughts: 

If you’ve been around here awhile, you probably haven’t seen many books in this genre come across in my reviews. (OKAY, you got me, aside from the book review from last week – Talking as Fast as I CanMemoirs/autobiographies are one of those things that I don’t read often, but when I do I usually like them. This one was no exception. It read like a fiction rather than the non-fiction that it is. The story is faced paced, easy to follow, and you want to turn the pages to find out what will happen next. Despite never having been to the Pacific coast or been through a divorce, Strayed brings her struggles to a level that is easy to relate to, making her story beautifully and painfully human.

What I Liked:

  • The writing. Strayed paints a beautiful picture. Her words carrying readers to another time, another life.
  • The story. I know it’s based on a true story, but Strayed story is truly amazing. It’s hard and sad, but there are so many moments of revelation and joy that the book becomes alive to the reader.
  • The vulnerability. I think this is one of those rules that people are taught, make yourself vulnerable to capture an audience, and for this, it REALLY worked. There is so much happening and it is so easy to relate to Strayed’s struggles as you read them.
  • The fact that it is an autobiography/memoir. When I read them, I really like autobiographies (like seriously, I haven’t read one I hated) and this one was no exception. I loved how real and raw the story was coupled with the events that happened.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The abruptness of the ending? I don’t feel right saying that because it was really well done, but I felt like Strayed rushed through Oregon on the PCT. Maybe she was out of things to write, but I’m not so sure. I really wanted to see her drawing this out a bit more.

I gave this book 5/5 stars because it is amazingly well written and I found myself continually relating to Strayed’s experiences. The fact that when I read this I was 22 (the same age Strayed lost her mother) and my husband and I are hikers did not escape my attention. I believe that at least part of the reason I am so able to relate to the story is that it’s not that different than my life could be now.

I would recommend this book to be on any “Quarter Life Crisis” book list. It is a really amazing book when you feel lost in life and you need to immerse yourself in someone else’s struggle. I (did) recommend this one to my momma and I think she will totally love it. I’m afraid I’ll be shoving this book in everyone’s face for the next few months. Just like the best of us, I get a little leery of books that are SUPER hyped up. Heck, this one even made Oprah’s BookClub. With that being said, I think this book is worth the hype and I truly believe it is a great read for anyone.

Let’s talk!

Have you read this book? What did you think about it? Agree or disagree with me? Are you planning on reading it?

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8 thoughts on “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

  1. When this book first came out a few years back, it was not pitched solely as a memoir, but more of a travel memoir, so I assumed I was about to read something along the lines of Bill Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods.” I was wrong. My book club also felt the same disappointed. Many people brought up the fact how appallingly unfit she was to take that hike, since she clearly didn’t know what she should pack, and who wears new hiking shoes for the first time as they start a months-long hiking adventure?!! I thought the title would represent actually being in the wild, but it was more an adjective for how she behaved – constantly putting her life in danger. I know this was a story about loss, coping with that, and overcoming. However, I was too busy being frustrated with her to care about that part of the story. I also felt that the ending was abrupt. I think this is a great example of a book that can force many different opinions. For example, what you saw as “vulnerability”, I saw as stupidity. Sorry for my rant, but to end on a more positive note, I know a lot of people who agree more with your assessment than mine.

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    1. I absolutely love hearing people who have completely different opinions on a book than I do. And I can TOTALLY see where you’re coming from (I struggled with the new boots thing, too!). She was stupid, very stupid. And practically everything that went wrong could have been avoided if she had planned a little better, practiced ahead of time, or just not done drugs. Her coping mechanisms are WAY out of whack and I know they were a little bit crazy, but I can’t help but find comfort in her struggles. (P.S. I generally try to avoid reading reviews before I start a book so I can form my own opinions, but if I’d read them for this one I’m not sure I would have started it because so many people have the same thoughts as you.) Thanks for commenting! I appreciate your opinion 🙂

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  2. I absolutely love the writing of Cheryl Strayed and Dear Sugar is an absolute national treasure, but this book just bothered me. As a hiker that dreams of doing a thru-hike someday, I really didn’t like the lack of respect and planning that she underwent… PCH isn’t really something done on a whim and I think the popularity of this book (and the movie) made it more difficult for people to hike PCH. Oops, I went on a rant there!

    Great review, and I can definitely see your points. Since you loved her writing I would highly HIGHLY recommend reading her Dear Sugar columns and/or checking out the Dear Sugar podcast.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can completely see where you are coming from. I love hiking, too, and I was definitely amazed by the lack of planning that went on there (what person doesn’t break in their hiking boots!?!). It is sad that her book was the first “big break” focusing on the PCH because I think there is so much more to it. I would love to do a thru-hike like that sometime, but with much better planning 🙂

    Thanks for the recommendations, I will totally have to check those out!

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