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Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Updated on February 26, 2015
5 stars for Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Book Details

Is the book well written?

Yes, it is quite beautifully written actually, you can tell she has always been a reader/ writer.

Is it an easy read?

Yes, it is extremely easy to fall into the journey she is taking. She tells the story of her own adventure, which makes it nearly impossible not to fall right in step next to her, as she lives it.

Is it a page turner?

Yes, Cheryl became one of my best friends for the two days it took me to read this book. It became a source of life energy and feel-good power for me.

Published Book Summary:

“At twenty-two, 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. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State— and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened and ultimately healed her.”

Readers Response

“Cheryl Strayed” I said out loud to myself as I first flipped this book over and over in my hands. I knew the smallest bit of the backstory of the woman who wrote this book at the time I bought it; I knew that she had lived ‘WILD’ and had written about her time on the Pacific Crest Trail. I also knew that the week before I walked into a book store to purchase it, my friend Christin had texted me: “the book ‘WILD’ was written for you, you need to read it. i love you!” That’s actually a quite typical exchange between myself and close friends, many of us read a lot, but rarely is something ever deemed ‘written for me’: call me intrigued.

Now I had this glossy new book in my hands while I waited in the drive thru Dunkins line, wondering about the story I was about to read. I flipped it over to look at the face on the right hand side of the back cover, the woman who lived this “must-read” adventure, Cheryl Strayed. I paused my thoughts and said the name out loud to myself… “Cheryl Strayed.. ha.” That had to be a pseudonym right? Oh, the cleverness of me to notice such things, and I bet that does turn out to be true, I thought to myself.

Well, Strayed is not the last name that this adventurer was born with, but it also not a pseudonym. Even the answer to how she became ‘Cheryl Strayed’, is merely a piece of the puzzle, used to paint us a picture of her life story. At the beginning of the book we learn that Cheryl is a 26 year-old, raised off the grid in Minnesota, and a current resident of All-Over, USA. She lost her Mom 4 years ago at the ripe age of 22, her family has scattered away to their own lives, and she has just divorced a man she loved. In a final act of desperation to save herself from the mess of woman she is becoming, and find the person she knows that she is, she decides to go on the adventure of a lifetime.

Acting on a whim of faith in her own abilities, she sets out to embark on a 100 day/1100 mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, alone. Armed with her guidebook The Pacific Crest Trail Vol 1: California, wilderness living necessities, and the sheer determination to survive and succeed, she starts her hike at the Mojave Desert in California in no physical condition to walk through two states. She is up against the decision to quit at every snag in the road and deviation from her plan, and she soon realizes that having any sort of expectations beyond making it to the next day, was her initial mistake.

She had planned on spending her trail time alone thinking about her life, figuring out where she went wrong, probably do a lot of crying and by the end of it all, having found herself landed on two feet with a new sense of self. The idea was a great one, get out of the real world long enough to find out who it is that you are, when you re-enter it. In between the callusing of her skin where her backpack rubs, the loss of 6 toenails, the deadly reality of the necessity of water, and the aches and pains of a human traveling 1100 miles on foot however, she doesn't have time to think about more than survival. She had a moment of stunning realization about what her time on the trail meant to her when she caught herself mid-thought thinking: This was the hardest thing she has ever done.

Cheryls adventure was not only once in her lifetime, but it may as well have been once in the Pacific Crest Trail’s lifetime as well, it was the 90’s and she was ballsy. It is very hard for me to imagine having the audacity to go on that adventure entirely alone, she had to rely solely on herself, and her own will power for survival. She meets fellow long distance hikers and makes friends she won’t ever forget. Cheryl takes us along with her on this hike, and reading about her time on the trail, has genuinely inspired a fearlessness in me about the way I am taking on my life moving forward.

One life lesson that shines through in this story is that a blank slate is a self-possession. The clarity of a fresh start is within, though sometimes it is buried in the deepest corners of ones being, but it is always there. We were brought into this life in a world that has physically provided for us the necessities for survival. Water, land, sun, warmth, and the means to make shelter, are all God or Earthly provided necessities, we are given collective use of for survival as a species.

This story is centered around timeless concepts.’Mind over matter’, perseverance, resilience, and the power of perspective are all central themes in this story. In the determination to be a survivor, Cheryl Strayed became a thriver, and there is plenty of adventure to keep you genuinely entertained. Cheryl’s story is unique, and full of adversity, but born out of love. The life lessons we can find within this story, are taught via challenges faced and overcome on the Pacific Crest Trail, but can utilized in overcoming hardships in any situation. This is a gorgeous tail of self-discovery, and being the hero in your own story.


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