I recently crossed an entry off my ever-growing reading list by tackling Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Part memoir, part cathartic experience, this gripping read brings you along during Strayed’s journey of hiking the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT).
“I was alone. I was barefoot. I was twenty-six years old and an orphan too. An actual stray, a stranger had observed a couple of weeks before, when I’d told him my name and explained how very loose I was in the world. “
During this life-altering experience, Strayed dips back into memories or moments from her life that explain her actions, decisions and how she arrived at her starting point of the trail in the Mojave Desert, via a hitchhiked ride, completely unprepared even though she was overloaded with the weight of her pack (aptly named “Monster).
From page one, I was hooked. It’s not only the life-or-death moments (although those do happen on the remote PCT); it’s the inner journey that Strayed takes to finally heal from her mother’s death and move on with her life. Despite the rapidly changing conditions, wild animals and extreme exhaustion, the author is able to hear her own voice on long, lonely stretches where it was only her and Mother Nature.
You actually feel like you’re along for the ride. For a lot of us, this is as close as we’ll ever get to hiking the PCT, but you feel a connection with Strayed early on. Why? She’s grieving, lost and flawed, yet determined to find herself and right her ship before it’s too late.
Haven’t we all been there on some level? Maybe you’ve made a poor decision, let a close friend down or found yourself in a depressing relationship that you can’t get out of. We’ve all faced obstacles, some more than others, and had to overcome them in order to move on with our lives. That’s where Strayed’s story fits in.
Wild reaches out, grabs your heart and makes an emotional connection. When you’ve read the last page, you may feel like you’ve made a journey yourself — not hiking the PCT but tackling a demon or problem in your own life.
If I haven’t piqued your interest enough, check out the book’s trailer…
Have you read the book? What did you think?
If not, are you interested in reading this book now?
What’s the best memoir that you’ve ever read?
Photos and video courtesy of Cheryl Strayed’s website
An early happy birthday, America! Best wishes to you and yours for a fun, safe and reflective 4th of July.