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September 11, 2013

65 Book Challenge: 'Wild' by Cheryl Strayed - Book Review

PCT I can’t say I’m completely wild about Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed which was next up on my 65 Book Challenge, but all the same I found that it wasn’t too bad as far as entertaining reading goes. My Goodreads four star rating perhaps partially reflects some of my thoughts on this hiking memoir and its author, but all the same I’d like to explore a bit more why this work was both moving and surprisingly mysterious. Wild revolves around Cheryl Strayed and her varied reactions to a deeply impacting tragedy. Although it takes some time, Strayed finally decides that the best way to deal with her heart-rending grief is to hike 1,100 miles across what is known as the Pacific Crest Trail or, simply, the PCT. To some extent, this is a book of female empowerment. As women, many of us know that at times we have to be much more careful when traveling alone and even more so when traveling through isolated and dangerous regions. In Wild Cheryl Strayed tackles this common issue head on. How? She hikes 1,100 miles all by herself. Yep, you heard right. Alone. Solo. With no one else. It’s  not that Cheryl is braver than any one of us, she is terrified of the same things: the night-time noises, the men with possibly bad intentions, the occasional wild animal, but she discovers that she has to manage her fear. And in Wild she teaches a lesson which can apply to anyone, whether male or female, and that is that you cannot allow yourself to be governed by your fear. Cheryl Strayed tells her story in Wild with the same straightforward grit and determination that surely carried her across over a thousand miles. The writing is neither humorous nor sad; Strayed finds a nice middle ground and sticks to it loyally throughout her memoir. My only complaint with Wild is that I felt Cheryl Strayed failed on at least one account: because although she made me want to go out and do something crazy and adventurous like hike the PCT, at the same time she didn’t manage to win me over to her side. One of my favorite parts of reading memoirs is being able to empathize with the author – but although I did see Strayed’s difficulties and did my best to understand them, I could not feel for her as if those same tragedies were happening to me. All in all, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed is a must-read if you are curious about hiking, enjoy the outdoors, or simply love to read  fascinating memoirs. Be sure to join in on our next two reads: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz and A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham. And as always, please feel free to share your own thoughts on Strayed’s book Wild. Happy reading! :D