- Audible Audiobook
- Listening Length: 13 hours and 6 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Random House Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: March 20, 2012
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B007MIWUG0
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Oprah's Book Club 2.0) Audiobook – Unabridged
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Fortunately, Cheryl met some good Samaritans along the way who helped to educate her in the art and science of backpacking and assisted her in editing the contents of her backpack to a more reasonable and sustainable level. She wrote frankly about her mistakes, miscalculations, and mishaps as she slowly made her way northward through the Mojave Desert to the Sierra Nevada mountain range (most of which she bypassed by hitchhiking because of record snowfall that year) and all the way up to the Bridge of the Gods at the Oregon/Washington border.
As for the book itself, this is one of the few times I would recommend seeing the movie before reading the book, simply because the book is long and somewhat dense and if the movie doesn't appeal to you, the book probably won't, either. I enjoyed both the descriptions of the beauty and difficulty of hiking such a long way as well as the flashbacks of Cheryl's life before and how she came to make the decision - impulsively, as always - to take on this journey. She did educate herself about the gear she would need, apparently overly so, since she ended up with so much in her backpack she had to sit down, strap on the backpack, then get up on all fours and gradually move herself into a semi-upright position. However, although she bought a book about hiking the trail as well as one on navigating with a compass, she apparently just skimmed the first book and although she intended to read the second book on the plane from Minnesota to California, she did not do so. In fact, she didn't read the navigation book until she was actually lost, at which time she discovered she really didn't understand either the language or the principles the book contained.
I will admit, the most difficult thing about reading this book besides its length and the density of the prose was dealing with Cheryl's character. I can only assume she was being honest about herself, since I don't believe anyone would portray themselves in such a negative light if it weren't the truth. Besides being heedless and impulsive, Cheryl betrayed, over and over again, a husband who seems to have had almost unlimited patience and love for her, even after their divorce. The loss of a loved one, especially one as close as Cheryl and her mother were, can cause people to react in strange and sometimes self-destructive ways. The best thing Cheryl did was to take herself out of the environment she was in and away from the temptations she found irresistible. But you know the old saying: Wherever you go, there you are. Cheryl was Cheryl, whether in Minnesota or on the PCT. The one thing she did do while on the trail was resist, almost to the very end, her rampant libido.
I am glad I read this book. In a way, it reminds me of books I read years ago about people who had moved far away from civilization to live off the land. That, too, is an attractive and romantic prospect until you factor in the backbreaking labor involved. Most of the characters in those books were infinitely easier to like but far less memorable. Cheryl is certainly someone I will never forget
Though I have hiked and backpacked some, and now with two young children it's challenging to go out, it made me want to do the same hike. Not for her reasons, but because every human has their own complicated life to contemplate away from civilization.
In a wonderful prose she describes the trail, her past, her present and is achingly honest with the reader. The beauty and the ugliness, of both the wilderness and herself. You learn what drives her, her doubts, and those tiny moments she decides to keep going. How a thousand mile journey begins before the first step, how each step is brutal, and the transformation each step bestows.
Wonderful read and will recommend it to my children when they doubt themselves. Or even when they achieve something. Ultimately, a great book that draws you in and stays with you.
Cheryl Strayed takes you on her impulsive journey along the Pacific Crest Trail as an ignorant amateur in need of escape from "everything". The long and often silent stretches of hiking offered the author much needed time to reflect on her painful past, fraught with questionable and self-destructive life decisions, and to her credit, she manages to keep the reader engaged throughout these extended periods during her hike where nothing really happens by discussing the memories of her past very candidly. However, I definitely found the first half of the book more interesting than the second as I started to get bored by her trip and the problems she experienced because she didn't do the homework she should have done prior to taking on such an ambitious task.
Although I think Strayed is a good writer, I just wasn't moved by her story. She had some interesting moments in Wild but on the whole, I kept thinking "what a stupid girl." I found it difficult to relate to her personally at times despite the fact that I could relate to her loss and much of her anger. Although Strayed was unforgiving of herself and very honest about her short-comings and bad decisions, she just came across as a narcissistic and self-absorbed child who wanted a convenient excuse to be irresponsible and sleep around with random men which I often found myself shrugging at and saying "so what?"
I appreciated how honest (often disparagingly so) Strayed was about herself but I couldn't help but question the truth of all aspects of her story. If the questionable parts made Wild more interesting, I wouldn't complain but they made me doubt her whole downward spiral, supposedly caused by her mother's death. I suspect that Strayed's life was already going awry and her mother's death was not what set her off on her dark path of self-destruction but it definitely provides a decent premise for a book on one's journey of self-discovery. Harsh, and I could be wrong of course, but that's my gut feeling nonetheless. The book was all so self-indulgent that by the ending, which was a very abrupt "let me tie it all up here to sound like I was healed by the time I was done", I was kind of relieved it was over.
Strayed does a good job of relaying her chopped-up memoirs but I definitely did not feel she conveyed her "healing process" on her hike very well because there was no genuine introspection on her part and I struggled to see where she got her closure because I, the reader, didn't get any. Perhaps that's because there was a bit of a disconnect between the accounts of Strayed's past and those of her experiences on the trail. They didn't mesh well as they seemed like two different books thrown together rather haphazardly with Strayed using her mother's death as the link - a fragile one at that.
Perhaps that was the angle she was working in her book and I just didn't get it but it felt like she missed the mark to me.
On the whole, worth a read if you've got time to kill, but that's about it in my humble opinion.