Margin Notes: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From lost to found on the Pacific Crest Trailby Cheryl Strayed

Average rating 3.92
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.
Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

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.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the writing of this book. I'm a sucker for memoirs and thought her voice and writing ability were great. She was wonderful at emotional descriptions (the scene with the horse made me want to turn away an I was a puddle by the end of it; when her mom dies; when she says goodbye to her marriage, and more). I was rooting for Cheryl throughout the story. I wanted her to wrestle with her demons and come out on top. She was great with other descriptions too--I knew exactly where her pack was rubbing on her hips. I could taste the Snapple. I could see the ice fields she was trying to cross. I was wholly impressed with her tenacity (possibly naivety?) and belief that she COULD accomplish the goal she set out on despite everything that was put in her way. Her story is impressive--from poverty to what she is today, she's had a remarkable life and this seems like one of the more important legs of her journey. I'm glad to have read about it.

However... Some of the secondary characters got muddled, for me. The whole casual way she talks about Heroin shocked me. I wasn't prepared for that, nor do I agree that it's a casual thing. It made me feel for her husband (at the time) and think of him as a godsend. I wish we got a little deeper into their relationship and the one with her siblings and stepfather. The story as a whole didn't seem to have a peak--a place where she really took the time to self-evaluate or where the story came to a head, except maybe the very end when she talks about coming back to the bridge with her family years later (which really was more of a denouement).

After talking through this book with book club, I realized that I forgot how young she was when she took this journey-early 20s! I think I should have given her a bit of a break b/c weren't we all a little unsure of ourselves, desperate, in search of something at that age? She seemed older than that, but that could just be b/c she wrote it years later, but I thought that was a good insight by some of my fellow readers. Also, the fact that she did this pre-internet is pretty impressive.

I could NEVER hike by myself for 3 months. That alone gets high marks from me.

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