Wild is a powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an 1100-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe - and built her back up again.
At 22, 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 faced 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.
©2012 Cheryl Strayed (P)2012 Random House
“No one can write like Cheryl Strayed. Wild is one of the most unflinching and emotionally honest books I've read in a long time. It is about forgiveness and grief, bravery and hope. It is unforgettable.” (Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle)
“While reading Cheryl Strayed’s stunning book about her arduous solo journey along the Pacific Crest Trail, I kept asking myself - what would I do if I were stripped bare of everything - money, job, community, even family and love? Thoreau once said, ‘In wildness is the preservation of the world.’ For Strayed, it is clear that in wildness was the preservation of her soul. She reminds us, in her lyrical and courageous memoir Wild, of what it means to be fully alive, even in the face of catastrophe, physical and psychic hardship, and loss." (Mira Bartók, author of The Memory Palace)
“Cheryl Strayed can sure tell a story. In Wild, she describes her journey from despair to transcendence with honesty, humor, and heart-cracking poignancy. This is a great book.” (Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia and Seeking Peace)
I have read several reviews that seem to judge the writer both for her life choices and for her lack of preparation for the extended hike and that's not going to be my theme here. Her background was trauma-filled enough prior to the PCT trip and that alone qualifies her for some odd (at the very least) and misbegotten decision-making. Perhaps her life had been so challenging and frightening before the hike, what could happen on the trip that could possibly be worse?
I kept feeling similarities to the movie "The Way" with Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez, as the story of an extended trip by foot with no preparation, following a dramatic personal loss. The same questions emerge and are shared with others on the road - Why are you doing this? What led up to this decision? What do you hope to accomplish? - as "the path" fulfills its inevitable destiny as metaphor for the examined life, and is offered up as a pilgrimage.
The fact that she waited over ten years to write the story - and perhaps this is at least partially due to the ups and downs of getting the book published in the first place - and did it without any internet caf??s, email, tweets and Facebook status reports, makes this a significant accomplishment, done (as far as I can tell but I may have missed something) totally from memory and without benefit of a journal of any sort.
The reading is excellent - narrated by Bernadette Dunne, of whose audio work I have long been a fan and have read more by her from audible.com than almost any other narrator. She has no interpretive quirks and does a very smooth and consistent reading without any extra drama thrown in.
Whatever the reason we read, for intellectual enhancement, emotional connection, information, escape, insight into alternate perspectives - bottom line for me and any book is always "does it work?". For "Wild", I have to say "yes".
If the person had realized that she is not a tortured soul but a person who is having terrible things happen to her because she is making terrible choices that hurt other people and cause her to be isolated. There is no reason to care for the author.
I would like to have heard about her walk on the trail in less than 1.5 hours of the book.
Narrator was great. No complaints.
The book started out as if the character is a victim. She experimented with life like all young adults do -- nothing new there. I believe she tried to convey it in a way that it was like the greatest transformation of young adulthood. We all have stories to tell and this one was just typical. Had it been a story about a 14 yr old head of household raising 3 siblings because parents had died, now that's a transformation into adulthood. Sorry, just didn't view this story as that intriguing. I bought the book because of watching Oprah do an interview with the author. It was still disappointing.
The voice of the narrator was not good at all. She didn't put excitement where there could be excitement. She was not the right voice for this book.
This book had so much potential and, indeed, portions of it were very good. It is an autobiography of the author, Cheryl Strayed. At age 45, she decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) as an escape and a way to find herself after her mother dies, and she divorces her husband. She has various affairs and gets hooked on drugs (heroin). Her life is a mess and the hike is a way to start anew. I am a hiker, and I really enjoyed the narrative when she is hiking. The story goes back to her mother, her married life (which wasn???t bad), and her affairs throughout the story. I wasn???t a fan of the regular use of the language throughout the book and her graphic verbiage used to describe the ???sex??? she had with others. She F*@% him, and F*@% him, and F*@% him. You get the drift. I get she had affairs, but why the strong language? Why do you have to tell us you haven???t even masturbated once during your hike? Who cares! You can get the same point across without all the hyperbole. I just about bailed on the book a few times.
As I kept reading, I was captivated by how the journey was making her stronger and really molding her as a new person. She was a novice hiker and packed her pack too heavy and could barely hike a few miles in a day in the beginning, and eventually going 20 miles in a day. She lost half of her toenails and strengthened her body. There was enough story there to balance out the other crap. I was waiting for the finish, thinking it really made a difference of who she had become. It ended with a fizzle. No really strong revelations. No big ah-ha moment. No lesson learned. Very disappointed with the ending. Overall, it was just okay.
Probably not Cheryl Strayed, but Bernadette Dunne did as good a job as a narrator could with the material.
Mostly, I was happy when it ended. The author did not inspire empathy. Although the descriptions of the trail and her journey were at times interesting, her utter unpreparedness for the trail came across as ridiculous. She struck me as a somewhat shallow person, and not particularly bright. Her expression of grief at the loss of her mother was touching, but if that grief supposedly inspired the journey and triggered some of her uninhibited behavior prior, it was unconvincing.
The narrator was very good. Overall, for me this one will be forgotten entirely.
I wouldn't try another from the author, but definitely would from Ms Dunne.
The idea of hearing about her adventures on the Pacific Crest Trail was exciting, but the book was really about her relationship with her family, personal exploration and coming to terms with grief.
Ms Dunne is a solid performer to whom I would listen again. I've enjoyed her reading in the past, and look forward to it in the future.
This book needs an editor. I'm not sure who the audience should be, but as an outdoors person it wasn't directed to me. Ms Strayed's experiments with heroin use lent color to the story, and contributed to a general understanding of her as a character. With that said, I bought the book for the story of her encounters with nature, and that was covered in this book with no need for follow-up.
I reviewed this book after listening to several interviews with the author. I was considering it as a book we might offer to customers in our park visitor centers. I was interested enough to have my attention held by the book, but found it unsuitable as an offering in a nature-related book store. The author's language is colorful (I consider four-letter words colorful when used in context), but her sexual exploits and drug experiments take the course of the book from a wilderness, nature experience to one describing personal awareness as the central theme.
I am a little sad that I already finished it. Just loved it! The way she describes her walk made it easy for me to picture it in my mind. Wish I had the courage to hike the PCT.
20140513 ◊ As an avid backpacker, I read this book with keen interest in the story of a woman completing a solo hike of the PCT. As a meticulous trip planner and methodical researcher, I cringed through the author's descriptions of her own lack of preparation and systemic dingbattedness. The best thing I can say about this book is that Cheryl Strayed is a decent writer. The only thing I can admire about her story is the sheer tenacity she displayed by staying on the trail, even though she skipped huge chunks of the actual PCT. Narration of the audiobook by Bernadette Peters completely missed the mark; her raspy voice didn't match the story's perky protagonist.
This book left a bad taste in my mouth. The author's story is not inspirational in the slightest; I don't understand why it's getting so much attention. A shallow, spoiled brat of a woman, Strayed was only able to complete as much of the PCT as she did by relying upon the kindness of others. I was so tired of reading about how everyone fawned over her that by the time she got kicked out of the RV park for not being able to pay the camping fee, I cheered out loud. This is not the story of a strong, capable woman; it's the story of a hapless nincompoop whose only redeeming quality was a desperation-tinged determination to "complete" the PCT. Best as a cautionary tale on how not to plan a long backpacking trip, solo or otherwise.
The only reason I read this book was because my daughter in law gave it to me, you know how family politics go. It was a delightful surprise. As a life long runner and walker, most of it being along the coast of Northern California, I was leery of how one could make a walk involving enough to fill an entire novel. So often these sorts of books are fueled by bragging rights, and spend far too many pages on how tough is the hiker, who is out there due to preferring the wild to people. (Tedium often ensues.)
Cheryl Strayed (yes, she named herself) pens a story infinitely engrossing. Though the sadness surrounding her mother lasted a bit longer than was comfortable, or interesting, the rest of her story was funny and captivating, making a very satisfying read. That it's a true story made it also an inspiring tale. Her creativity and endurance with ill fitting foot wear was wondrously humorous and, well, totally awesome!
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