- Paperback: 315 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Books; 1st edition (March 26, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0307476073
- ISBN-13: 978-0307476074
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13,342 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail Paperback – March 26, 2013
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“Spectacular. . . . A literary and human triumph.” —The New York Times Book Review
"I was on the edge of my seat. . . . It is just a wild ride of a read . . . stimulating, thought-provoking, soul-enhancing." —Oprah Winfrey, on Wild, first selection of her Book Club 2.0
“Strayed’s language is so vivid, sharp and compelling that you feel the heat of the desert, the frigid ice of the High Sierra, and the breathtaking power of one remarkable woman finding her way—and herself—one brave step at a time.” —People (4 stars)
"An addictive, gorgeous book that not only entertains, but leaves us the better for having read it. . . . Strayed is a formidable talent." —The Boston Globe
"One of the most original, heartbreaking, and beautiful American memoirs in years. . . . Awe-inspiring." —NPR Books
“Cinematic. . . . A rich, riveting story. . . . Our verdict: A.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Pretty much obliterated me. I was reduced, during the book’s final third, to puddle-eyed cretinism. . . . As loose and sexy and dark as an early Lucinda Williams song. It’s got a punk spirit and makes an earthy and American sound. . . . The cumulative welling up I experienced during Wild was partly a response to that too infrequent sight: that of a writer finding her voice, and sustaining it, right in front of your eyes.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“Brave seems like the right word to sum up this woman and her book. . . . Strayed’s journey is exceptional.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“One of the best books I’ve read in the last five or ten years. . . . Wild is angry, brave, sad, self-knowing, redemptive, raw, compelling, and brilliantly written, and I think it’s destined to be loved by a lot of people, men and women, for a very long time.” —Nick Hornby
“Devastating and glorious. . . . By laying bare a great unspoken truth of adulthood—that many things in life don’t turn out the way you want them to, and that you can and must live through them anyway—Wild feels real in many ways that many books about ‘finding oneself’ . . . do not.” —Slate
“Incisive and telling. . . . [Strayed] has the ineffable gift every writer longs for of saying exactly what she means in lines that are both succinct and poetic. . . . an inborn talent for articulating angst and the gratefulness that comes when we overcome it.” —The Washington Post
“Vivid, touching and ultimately inspiring account of a life unraveling and of the journey that put it back together.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Strayed . . . catalogs her epic hike . . . with a raw emotional power that makes the book difficult to put down. . . . In walking, and finally, years later, in writing, Strayed finds her way again. And her path is as dazzlingly beautiful as it is tragic.” —Los Angeles Times
“A fearless story, told in honest prose that is wildly lyrical as often as it is dirtily physical.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune
“This isn’t Cinderella in hiking boots, it’s a woman coming out of heartbreak, darkness and bad decisions with a clear view of where she has been. . . . There are adventures and characters aplenty, from heartwarming to dangerous, but Strayed resists the temptation to overplay or sweeten such moments. Her pacing is impeccable as she captures her impressive journey.” —The Seattle Times
“Strayed’s journey was at least as transcendent as it was turbulent. She faced down hunger, thirst, injury, fatigue, boredom, loss, bad weather, and wild animals. Yet she also reached new levels of joy, accomplishment, courage, peace, and found extraordinary companionship.” —The Christian Science Monitor
“Strayed writes a crisp scene; her sentences hum with energy. She can describe a trail-parched yearning for Snapple like no writer I know. . . . It becomes impossible not to root for her.” —The Plain Dealer
“Brilliant. . . . Cheryl Strayed emerges from her grief-stricken journey as a practitioner of a rare and vital vocation. She has become an intrepid cartographer of the human heart.” —Houston Chronicle
“A deeply honest memoir about mother and daughter, solitude and courage, and regaining footing one step at a time.” —Vogue
“This is a big, brave, break-your-heart-and-put-it-back-together-again kind of book. Cheryl Strayed is a courageous, gritty, and deceptively elegant writer. She walked the PCT to find forgiveness, came back with generosity—and now she shares her reward with us. I snorted with laughter, I wept uncontrollably; I don’t even want to know the person who isn’t going to love Wild. This is a beautifully made, utterly realized book.” —Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted and Cowboys are My Weakness
About the Author
CHERYL STRAYED is the author of the #1 New York Times best seller Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, which was the first selection for Oprah's Book Club 2.0 and became an Oscar-nominated film starring Reese Witherspoon;Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, a national best seller now the basis of the WBUR podcast Dear Sugar Radio, co-hosted with Steve Almond; and Torch, her debut novel. Her books have been translated into forty languages, and her essays and other writings have appeared in numerous publications.
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As someone who grew up in Oregon, I’m of course partial to the PCT. But either trail would do. Because despite their differences, both offer the same thing: a strenuous hike through gorgeous scenery.
But it’s likely my desire will always remain just a desire. Confined to my mind.
Several months ago, this might have bothered me. But now I’m okay with it. Because after reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed, the part of me that’s wanted to hike the PCT is now satisfied. It’s put to rest.
Not that I’ve deceived myself to believe I’ve actually hiked the trail. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t. My feet are without callouses and my toenails are intact. My leg muscles aren’t bulging and the skin on my hips isn’t thick like leather.
After reading Wild, though, I’m different. I’ve changed. Because I’ve seen what it’s like to hike the PCT. I’ve witnessed the physical toll it takes on the body. I’ve felt the emotional impact it has on the heart.
At only twenty-seven, Cheryl Strayed’s life is a mess. Her mother’s dead from cancer. Her family’s scattered. She’s recently divorced from a man she still loves. She’s involved in a dead-end relationship with a guy hooked on heroin. She’s wasted months toying with the same drug. She’s without a job, without money, without much of anything.
So with nothing left to lose, Cheryl gives light to a crazy idea simmering within: to leave everything behind and hike 1,000 miles of the PCT.
Over the next seven months – and 300 pages – Cheryl does exactly what she set out to do.
Both painful and beautiful, it’s an incredible adventure. Along the way, she encounters the obvious threats and setbacks – dehydration, wild animals, hostile men, physical pain, extreme weather, bad navigation. And while these experiences test her, they don’t define her journey.
It’s the unexpected that defines her journey. The generosity of strangers. The goodwill of others. The flashes of tragic memories. And the slow realization that she has the power to create a different life. A new life.
Wild is not simply a book about hiking the PCT – that would be ordinary, perhaps even forgettable. Instead, it’s a stirring, heart-wrenching account of a broken woman and her tenacity to reach for something more. To demand more from life.
And while much of the book is concerned with the minutia of hiking – there are few profound, life-changing epiphanies – that somehow seems true of life. Because like the book, life often moves at the speed of someone walking the PCT. Slowly. Beautifully. One step at a time.
This review originally appeared on my blog at paulperkins.com/wild-cheryl-strayed.
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.