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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 20, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 11,965 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, March 2012: At age 26, following the death of her mother, divorce, and a run of reckless behavior, Cheryl Strayed found herself alone near the foot of the Pacific Crest Trail--inexperienced, over-equipped, and desperate to reclaim her life. Wild tracks Strayed's personal journey on the PCT through California and Oregon, as she comes to terms with devastating loss and her unpredictable reactions to it. While readers looking for adventure or a naturalist's perspective may be distracted by the emotional odyssey at the core of the story, Wild vividly describes the grueling life of the long-distance hiker, the ubiquitous perils of the PCT, and its peculiar community of wanderers. Others may find her unsympathetic--just one victim of her own questionable choices. But Strayed doesn't want sympathy, and her confident prose stands on its own, deftly pulling both threads into a story that inhabits a unique riparian zone between wilderness tale and personal-redemption memoir. --Jon Foro

From Author Cheryl Strayed

Oprah and Cheryl StrayedOprah with Cheryl Strayed, author of Book Club 2.0's inaugural selection, Wild.

I wrote the last line of my first book, Torch, and then spent an hour crying while lying on a cool tile floor in a house on a hot Brazilian island. After I finished my second book, Wild, I walked alone for miles under a clear blue sky on an empty road in the Oregon Outback. I sat bundled in my coat on a cold patio at midnight staring up at the endless December stars after completing my third book, Tiny Beautiful Things. There are only a handful of other days in my life--my wedding, the births of my children--that I remember as vividly as those solitary days on which I finished my books. The settings and situations were different, but the feeling was the same: an overwhelming mix of joy and gratitude, humility and relief, pride and wonder. After much labor, I'd made this thing. A book. Though it wasn't technically that yet.

The real book came later--after more work, but this time it involved various others, including agents, publishers, editors, designers, and publicists, all of whose jobs are necessary but sometimes indecipherable to me. They're the ones who transformed the thousands of words I'd privately and carefully conjured into something that could be shared with other people. "I wrote this!" I exclaimed in amazement when I first held each actual, physical book in my hands. I wasn't amazed that it existed; I was amazed by what its existence meant: that it no longer belonged to me.

Two months before Wild was published I stood on a Mexican beach at sunset with my family assisting dozens of baby turtles on their stumbling journey across the sand, then watching as they disappeared into the sea. The junction between writer and author is a bit like that. In one role total vigilance is necessary; in the other, there's nothing to do but hope for the best. A book, like those newborn turtles, will ride whatever wave takes it.

It's deeply rewarding to me when I learn that something I wrote moved or inspired or entertained someone; and it's crushing to hear that my writing bored or annoyed or enraged another. But an author has to stand back from both the praise and the criticism once a book is out in the world. The story I chose to write in Wild for no other reason than I felt driven to belongs to those who read it, not me. And yet I'll never forget what it once was, long before I could even imagine how gloriously it would someday be swept away from me.


From Booklist

Echoing the ever-popular search for wilderness salvation by Chris McCandless (Back to the Wild, 2011) and every other modern-day disciple of Thoreau, Strayed tells the story of her emotional devastation after the death of her mother and the weeks she spent hiking the 1,100-mile Pacific Crest Trail. As her family, marriage, and sanity go to pieces, Strayed drifts into spontaneous encounters with other men, to the consternation of her confused husband, and eventually hits rock bottom while shooting up heroin with a new boyfriend. Convinced that nothing else can save her, she latches onto the unlikely idea of a long solo hike. Woefully unprepared (she fails to read about the trail, buy boots that fit, or pack practically), she relies on the kindness and assistance of those she meets along the way, much as McCandless did. Clinging to the books she lugs along—Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Adrienne Rich—Strayed labors along the demanding trail, documenting her bruises, blisters, and greater troubles. Hiker wannabes will likely be inspired. Experienced backpackers will roll their eyes. But this chronicle, perfect for book clubs, is certain to spark lively conversation. --Colleen Mondor
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (March 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307592731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307592736
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11,965 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #20,727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If I had known that every few pages I would have to see passages underlined by Oprah I would not have bought this edition. Not only does it bump me out of the narrative, but it deprives me of experiencing the book on my own; instead forcing me to think Oprah's underlines are the important parts. It makes what could otherwise be a beautiful story feel like a cheap used textbook. I should at least be able to hide the obnoxious underlining and get to experience the story on my own.

I love the story, and I love Oprah, but I hate having her perspective forced on me as I read. I'll never buy an Oprah digital book again.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There is a vast amount of trail literature, a type of writing that is uniquely American. I am not aware of any other book in this genre, however, that has received the public acclaim accorded to Wild, Cheryl Strayed's recent memoir of her life on and before her hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. Wild is one of the top selling books of the year and will become a classic of trail literature in the future.

But why is Wild so successful? It helps, of course, that Strayed is already a critically acclaimed author. A grant from the Oregon Arts commission to write the book certainly improved the text. Unlike many trail memoirs, this is a polished affair and clearly not composed as an afterthought to the day's work. But the main reason this book is so successful is the story of redemption it tells. Strayed's life fell apart when her mother died while she was in her early 20s. Unable to deal with the grief, she first cheated on then divorced her husband (I was unable to stop feeling bad for Paul throughout the book), took heroin, and went through some gut wrenching events while slowly trying to self destruct. But when she began to hike, her life began to change. She forced all her material concerns out of her life, helped in part by two overaged boy scouts who removed many items from her pack, and focused on the immediate activities that allowed her to survive in harsh conditions. And conditions were tough in 1995. My wife and I began hiking the trail together that same year and like Strayed, we made the decision to avoid certain sections. But Strayed perserved and by the end of the trail was a changed, more confident person. She went on to start writing, got married and had children.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had mixed reactions to this book.

As a disclaimer, I would like to point out that I am not in the target audience for this book. I am 58 and male. I read the book because I am a backpacker. The book sells mostly to young, slim (probably athletic) women. Why do I make this assertion? I went to Cheryl Strayed's event and book-signing. 95% of the large audience (Ms. Strayed is a rock star) fit this target market. The other 5% probably came for the electronic, new-age musician.

If I were in the target market, if I had identified more strongly with Ms. Strayed (or her 24-year old self), I would probably have loved this book. If you can identify with Cheryl Strayed, then you may love this book.

If you cannot form this bond, you may dislike the book because of the follow reasons:

1. The language and metaphors are fairly pedestrian. I kept thinking, I have heard that analogy or phrasing in many books (often self-help books, no accident that Ms. Strayed was a self-help columnist). The author usually avoids obvious cliches, but if you reflect upon media discussions that focus on personal growth, you will recognize most of the language. For example, the author loves the adverb, "profoundly." She also uses some obvious tricks to make the writing seem compelling: sexual obscenities (not an objection for me, but more of an author tic) and exaggerating verbs -- "destroyed" for tired and "shattered" for distraught or depressed. Not terrible, but not Joan Didion or Dave Eggers.

2. Cheryl Strayed likes metaphor as the primary tool in story-telling (call it approach A). She made this comment in the event that I attended. Many authors, however, focus upon precise, sensory detail to show depth of character, point of view, voice and story development.
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I have never written a book review before, but I so intensely loathe this book and author that I felt it was worth doing.

The sad part is, I used to love her. I subscribed to her Sugar On the Rumpus column and really enjoyed reading it. I was very excited to get this book. However, after reading her self-indulgent, narcissistic drivel of a memoir, I honestly can't imagine ever reading another word she writes.

I also have hiked the PCT, and I lost a beloved parent in my early twenties. In fact, I've been through a number of similar traumas to Strayed. What I didn't do to recover was libel my entire immediate family, murder a horse, or wallow in self-pity for YEARS. I also didn't make up my own name to tell everyone what a narcissistic, self-important and consumed human being I am. Further, as a woman who loves long solo-hikes, I have zero respect for people who take them on unprepared. That doesn't make you brave; it makes you stupid and a danger to yourself and others. Also as a female hiker, being alone and a woman does not entitle you to special treatment or some sort of rock-star status. I meet tons of other solo women hiking. I would like to believe that they are all less self-important than the author.

This book is a perfect example of what trash some memoirs can be. Simply because an author is willing to compose a tell-all and publish every one of their most depraved actions, doesn't mean that it's worth writing or publishing. It certainly doesn't guarantee a journey of self-discovery. Unlike a lot of the other 1 star reviews here, I did finish the book. I can honestly say that from first page to last, the author demonstrates nothing other than that she's a terrible human being.
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