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)
Cutting out the references to Strayed being a 'feminist.' I'm sorry, but that's the worst part of Wild: the blatant, phony feminist propaganda. It's as if feminism has become so trendy in pop culture that everyone is claiming they're a part of the cause. But it's a word that is often misappropriated and misused, especially by terrible role models such as Cheryl Strayed. The entire time listening to Wild I felt as if Strayed is a woman who wants so desperately to be considered a feminist to somehow justify all her prior stupid mistakes. At times it feels as if she adjusts her story, even throwing in the line, "I am a feminist," to frantically convince us that she's somehow rising above it all. I just don't buy it. Being a selfish, inconsiderate asshole doesn't make you a feminist or a martyr for a greater cause. It makes you a selfish, inconsiderate asshole, and not a person the reader should want to feel compassion for.
Wild is tiresome and disjointed for most of the hike, and Strayed uses crutch words and adjectives over and over to tell her story. It gets cumbersome pretty fast. Honestly, Wild takes the same approach as another vain diatribe, "Eat Pray Love." Essentially, a struggling female writer feels trapped in her life and decides to try something 'Wild' to get herself out of this rut and find purpose. Then (*shockingly) she decides years later to write a book about it and capitalize off all the people who want to do the same. CRAZY! I won't argue that Strayed didn't have a rough go at it. With the death of her mother, her rotten coping mechanisms through anonymous sex and heroin use, the consequent failure of her marriage and the downward spiral of her life, Strayed was headed nowhere before she found the path of the PCT. But that does not excuse how ego-driven and basic Wild is (and is told).To be honest, one of the best parts of the book was the relationships and perspectives of others who Strayed came across on the trail. We got to hear what they were going through, not just getting hit over the head by the same old Strayed gruff and "Oops! I don't know how shoe laces work." By the end of the story I wasn't much interested in Strayed anymore, I actually cared more about what happened to everyone else.
Hrm... perhaps, but I'll need to get her voice out of my head for awhile before I can endure another long reading. She does a fine job, I just really disliked the story she was reading.
I would cut Cheryl! Seriously. Strayed is the ugliest character in the story. Aside from a terrible synopsis of catharsis at the end (seriously, what was that?), Strayed doesn't seem to change much emotionally or in her relationships from beginning to end. I could see her very easily going right back into the life she was living before, after all her promiscuity didn't change a whole lot along the way... Yet somehow Strayed goes out of her way to subtly make herself into a hero, innocent and a victim in this crazy world all around her. We see this when all the rangers, hikers, townsfolk, even customers at the diner she's waiting at all want to take advantage of her, or want sex from her (apparently every man in the 90s was absolutely horrible, even the husband she was cheating on who drove across the country to fetch her out of a drug den and save her life. Hrm…). The most ironic part is how Strayed describes in the book that she wanted to sleep with nearly every man that crossed her path (including most men on the trail), and at times she said she had to hold herself back. I found myself laughing. For someone who preached that she didn't need a man to help her in this world... Strayed very often relied on men to help her survive, move forward and/or feel better about herself. Again, by the end of the book I didn't really care much for Strayed or what happened to her since her journey.
If the story is intended to be one about personal growth and finding oneself, then there is very little of that here, or it is spread so thin over so long that it hardly resonated with me. I kinda felt insulted by her story and embarrassed that so many embrace her and what she did as some sort of epic feat, or worse a type of feminist martyrdom. I think Strayed was a selfish girl who did stupid things, and out of sheer blonde luck was able to survive a trek on her own where she was clearly outmatched. Out of even more luck, she was able to turn that mediocre experience into an even more mediocre story, and hence earn millions of dollars in return. Well good for her. It's not a bad book, and I'm sure lots of people do and will love it. I just found it to be a drawling story about a ugly person who wants us all to believe she's a saint or somehow became one by hiking in the woods. I don't buy it. Unfortunately I bought the audio book.
At first, I thought the author petulant, a victim, and helpless. I wasn't sure I would enjoy the rest of the book. But then, almost imperceptibly, there is growth, and maturity, and amazing and amusing adventure, and risk, and relief. It's a grand journey, and not the way I had expected. Very glad I came along. I feel like PCT is an old friend now.
Well narrated fun adventure. The reader of this book made this. I would recommend this to all. Everyone dreams of doing a long thru hike, this might be the story that finally makes you do it!
This is one of those amazing stories that you want to go on forever. As I watched the "time left" diminishing near the end of the book, I became sad it was almost over. I think I need to go on a hike.
I enjoyed the story; it was entertaining and kept my attention. However, I didn't find it to be particularly profound and it was oftentimes predictable, which I find disappointing. The reader's voice, Bernadette, seemed too old for the main character, so a lot of the scenes seemed unbelievable or laughable when read by an old woman. Despite all of my gripes, I would recommend the book to a friend and I appreciated learning about the PCT.
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