Wild – Cheryl Strayed

I’m biased. If I see that a book is on Oprah’s Book Club, I’m less inclined to read it. I know, I’m so judgemental when it comes to books.

Wild was my exception. After years of only having time for academic reading, Wild was the first book I picked up for leisure reading. So when I chose it for my challenge, I already knew that it would be perfect for the ‘Book that takes place in the Summer’ category.

Wild is Cheryl Strayed’s personal account of how she hiked a large part of the Pacific Crest Trail (referred to as the PCT) after her mother’s death and her divorce. I can hear your groans already, but stick with me. Throughout the book, I was consistently amazed at how she perservered through a brutal trail with no previous hiking experience. At the time of my first reading, I had just moved to San Francisco. I was alone and hadn’t made any friends to spend my weekends with yet. So I took to the Bay Area’s many hiking trails. After my first hike, I thought that I would never return. My ignorant self had considered hiking to be walking in nature and didn’t realise that you can end up on one of the steepest trails if you don’t do proper research (I was THAT person). However, I quickly developed a love for a hiking and a respect for long-distance hikers. *enter Cheryl Strayed*

Her 3 month trek astounded me. Her account of her hiking injuries and nature scares kept me on the edge of my seat. If there were “boring” days on her trail, she left them out of the book. Her book is mostly based in her present where she is hiking, however, there are flashbacks to her past. She deals with her demons by finding peace on the PCT.

One of the most incredible things about Wild is the encounters she has with friendly people. She acknowledges these people and incorporates them into her memoir, showing how they helped her in her journey. I know reviews have criticised Strayed for being self-absorbed, immature, inexperienced and a ding-bat (the first time I’ve read ding-bat in a review, by the way!). She may very well be all of these things and more, but her journey on the PCT is recorded with such vulnerability that it demands respect.

“I considered my options. there were only two and they were essentially the same. I could go back in the direction I had come from, or I could go forward in the direction I intended to go” – Cheryl Strayed

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