Literary Quote of the Month

“For poems are not, as people think, simply emotions (one has emotions early enough)—they are experiences,” … Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Wild by Cherly Strayed… A Review.

The Pacific Crest Trail is 2663 miles long. It is a wilderness trail that stretches from the Mexican border in California all the way to the Canadian border. It passes through California, Oregon and Washington, various mountain ranges, lakes, watering holes, icy expanses, and all manor of woods. Sharing the wilderness trail are bears, coyotes, rattlesnakes and numerous other wild animals, and a few wild humans too.  It is beautiful and at the same time dangerous.

Cheryl Strayed was emotionally damaged. She had lost her Mother, lost her family essentially, loved her stepfather, but felt estranged from him as his life went forward after her Mother's death. She was divorcing a man she loved and she was out of control trying to move forward when she didn't have the strength. The PCT or The Pacific Crest Trail gave her that strength. It made her focus.

In what could be considered a crazy move, Cheryl decides to go on a 3 month hike on the PCT. Crazy because she didn't have the knowledge one should have about long distance hiking. She never even hiked much before the PCT trip. But she had nothing to lose. Underfunded and carrying too much of a load, with only a guidebook in hand, Cheryl sets out to hike over 1000 miles alone. This is an amazing story. This is her story.

What did I think? I absolutely loved this book! Cheryl's writing is gripping and honest. I was enthralled from the first page and had to keep turning those pages. I was emotionally and almost physically walking that trail with her. She made me feel what she was going through. I was sad, devastated, elated and rooting her on as she took me on that 3 month journey. Her thoughts went back to her "other life" at times, sharing with us her struggles that lead her to buy those hiking boots and start something fresh. Those moments of reflection were seamless and moved the story along wonderfully. And the story itself was written as though it were happening in the present, even though Cheryl didn't start writing Wild until years later.

I had heard about Wild when it was first published the summer of 2012. It had gotten good reviews, but I was a bit "memoir outed". When Wild was picked as one of World Book Night's 2014 selections, I decided I would pick it up. Maybe it's because of my own past struggles that Wild resonated with me, or maybe it was because Cheryl was a woman trying to prove her abilities to be independent & strong. As I read I wanted Cheryl to succeed, not only with her long distance hike, but the struggles she had with missing her Mother, wanting her family back,  and trying to forgive herself for decisions she had made in her past. When I finally turned that last page, I felt that satisfaction and disappointment of finishing a really good book. The adventure between these pages wasn't all milk & cookies, some of the story was hard to take at times, but I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a wonderfully written story full of heart. Part adventure, part inspirational, Wild is about life.

Wild is published by Vintage, a division of Random House and is available in Paperback , a Kindle Edition , and for Nook. If you're interested, click on the links to purchase Wild and read it for yourself!

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