Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Publisher: Vintage Books
Genre: Memoir
Paperback Edition: 311 pages
Source: Personal Copy

This young woman may have come from a disintegrating family. She may have made some very questionable decisions in her short life. No doubt, she suffered a devastating loss with the death of her mother. Also, no doubt Cheryl Strayed has important things to tell us in this riveting memoir chronicling her hike of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Any part of this hike would be grueling. She hiked from the Mojave in southern California to the Bridge of Gods in northern Oregon, eleven hundred miles, most of it alone. Such courage, stamina and endurance. It is another example of a woman keeping on keeping on, the kind of story that grabs the heart and holds it tight.

The trail both “shelters and shatters” her. Her changing attitude toward her body and mind from earlier drug use to feeling strong as she prepares to hike the section of trail known as Hat Creek Rim is evident. “So much depended upon mind control.” “I felt rested and strong, braced for the day.” She teaches us about facing one’s past, about being alone, accepting what is and appreciating the amazing things in our world. “They opened up inside of me like a river.” She learned to feel fierce and humble, safe in the world. The reader, too, learns much, following her story on this hike.

She tells her story in an unsentimental narrative. Suspense awaits at nearly every bend she faces. Yet it is amazing, how her hard and unforgiving physical and emotional journey steps so often in pools of warmth and humor. We all need to watch for instances of “trail magic” in our lives: “the unexpected sweet happenings that stand out in stark relief to the challenges of the trail.”

Reese Witherspoon stars in the upcoming movie based on this story. She says, “We save ourselves. Everyone knows it.” The art of reflection is an important theme in this inspiring story, an element of survival and growing beyond survival. Ms. Strayed includes a quote from the poet Mary Oliver to open Part Five. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? It is a question any reader of this book will ponder.

Many are reading this book, perhaps you will, too. More information about the book is available online, including at May I suggest Wild is one of the best books of the year.


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