First off, if you don't like unnecessary violence toward animals, this book is not for you. I am permanently traumatized by this book by a particular scene involving a horse. The visceral abuse prevents me from further illustration on this short but horrifying scene. This book should've come with a warning label on it. I had to skip ahead through the part once I realized how bad it was, but the damage was already done. I forewarn you, it is around the middle of the book.
The story itself is interesting enough, although there are many parts that I found quite dull—the protagonist, for instance, provides a great deal of in-depth narrating of mundane occurrences along her trek. It was a little overboard. Despite the tedious sprinkling of mundanity, large chunks of this memoir are exciting with adventure, with sadness and tension also to be found, so that I could feel my heartbeat quickening and adrenaline rushing throughout the book: the rhythm was well-paced and structured to avoid too much tedium. The reason I chose to read this book in the first place is because I thought it would be interesting and fun to live vicariously through someone doing something that I would never do. I would consider that approach to be an objective successfully met.
Toward the end of the book, I was eager to finish it, so that I could be done and move on; by that point, finishing the journey seemed to be the teller’s goal, and I had become a bit bored with it. Therefore, I will rate it 3 stars.
I found the audio book's narrator's voice incredibly irritating. I was hoping this was something I would eventually get used to and stop noticing, but it did not get any less annoying as the book progressed. Her voice sounded rough, strained, sandpapery, raspy, artificial, and breathy (but not a Marilyn Monroe breathy—more like a creepy phone stalker breathy). Her voice is very grating. I thought I would be able to acclimate to those characteristics because her voice is unique, but the uniqueness never transpired to tolerance, let alone enjoyment. Also, the narrator’s attempts to portray male characters are unsuccessful. She isn’t able to vary her voice much, thus many of the males sound effeminate and similar to one another. Some female narrators can pull off male voices well, but when she tries, it sounds comical. It sounds like a little woman putting on her fake man-voice. I was dismayed as her vocal contributions diminished my enjoyment of the book.
The best way to listen to this book is to walk along with it. During the Fourth of July week I had off from my camp counselor job and decided to go on various walks around my town. Some walks were on trails, some walks were just around my neighborhood; ranging from 3 to 4 miles long.
Walking with the book made me feel that I was walking with Cheryl on the PCT. What a great way to enjoy my week off.
I've walked the Camino de Santiago 500 miles from southern France, across mountains, to the Atlantic. I'm about to set out on a 350 mile European Peace Walk from Austria to Italy. So much of Cheryl's story resonated with me. I knew her lessons because I'd learned many of them myself. I also walked alone.
This is beautifully written and performed. I'll listen to it over and over.
If you are looking for a book to take you into someone else's life this is the book for you. Descriptive and real the story will take you not only through Cheryl's trek but also her personal life. It provides an opportunity for the reader to reflect on their own life but also to understand and feel the pain, joys and triumphs of another.
In some ways the book reminds me of Eat Pray Love. The journey of self-discovery.
No, great story, but once was enough. Lots of good books out there.
The narrator is really, really horrible. She changes her voice to make the characters sound different from each other, which may or may not in itself be a good idea, but what is so offensive about her performance is that she makes all the male characters sound like sleazy molesters and all the women like frail little girls on the brink of tears. At some point she tries to do a Swiss accent that sounds terrible, and more Russian if anything at all. The narration really detracts from the book. A lot.
Although it was hard to get into, the story does pick up, but with lots of detail throughout. Teaches you important lessons, such as enjoying the journey that you are on, having the journey be the reward, and not a path to said reward.