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on August 8, 2017
I actually thought I was going to hate this book. I hated Eat, Pray, Love and this one came up on my list of recommendations after reading that but I gave it a try anyways. I am so glad that I did. This book was nothing like this "you have everything you've ever wanted in life but go try to find something else" books that are so popular these days. Cheryl writes in a way that really made me feel her own pain and her own fears and struggles. She captured grief in a way that I found very relatable. This story is one of failure, of mistakes, of mourning and above all of rising above all of those things to continue to carry on throughout life. I really loved it.
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on October 25, 2017
There is something fascinating about the idea of going far away from everything and everyone you know, being alone in the world, and searching for who you really are in a setting where the only expectations are those you impose upon yourself. This is what Cheryl Strayed did in Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. One of the things she discovered is that the impulsivity and lack of direction which plagued her in her "real" life dogged her as she trekked the Pacific Crest Trail. She was both woefully unprepared for the challenges of the trail and almost laughably overprepared with a backpack that was, by her estimation, half her own weight.

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
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on July 25, 2017
I hesitated to read this book based on some reviews, was the author really running away from her troubles, is she worth paying attention to?

Yes.

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.
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on December 11, 2012
I read this book because it was recommended to me by a friend who shares similar taste in literature but I'm afraid I'm somewhat disappointed.

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.
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on November 8, 2017
This is one of those books where you see the movie first, then discover it was based on a book and a true story.
Reading the book allows you to really see how the main character processes the traumatic events in her life while she hikes the PCT. Those events are a little easier for the reader to piece together and understand. There are also a few things that the movie left out of the story, so those things you wondered about are explained more in the book.
I actually recommend both the book and the movie. On the flipside, the movie fills in the visual gaps that the book can't.
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on April 21, 2018
My only regret is I gave this book away! Wild was one of the 1st books I read about anyone who has accomplished a thru-hike, and in this care a very long hike on the PCT. A long hike by a tiny but mighty woman was nothing short of inspiring. I would be lying if I wasn't afraid for her when that drunk creep returned to ask her unsettling questions. Thankfully his equally creepy friend returned and got him the heck away from her, but what would've/could've happened had the other guy not came back. Its scary to know so many creepy men are lurking on the trails. Its speaks volumes to the courage of Cheryl Strayed. I do not know if I could have continued on had it been me. There is a portion in a book I recently read called Lost on the Appalachian Trail, by Kyle Rohrig, where he tells of a woman who was walking the trail alone and towards the end she just disappeared, never to be seen again or found. It was hard on Kyle who could only surmise foul play. However both books were very inspiring and lit a fire in me to get back on the trails and plan something BIG, but I am not courageous enough to do a thru-hike alone. And I'm bringing a gun....don't judge, just saying...
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on May 24, 2016
I do feel the book was very well written. And I love the story based on the mother and intense depression of a loved one lost because I feel that is a common thread between the character and anyone that has lost somewhere dear. Also the part about the horse made me cry. I will say I have a soft spot for anything involving animals and the Pacific Northwest.
Now as for the main character... I was not a real fan. I thought she was a slefish brat with a well-fed narcissist issue. She complained... and complained... and complained. Alot of the story as about her feet... and I get it.... hiking great distances- hard. And the majority of the story concerned whether men liked her or thought she was attractive.
There was a little or no discription of the surroundings so unless you have been to the Pacific Northwest, you have no idea how visually impacting the area truly is... I felt a huge rift in any empathy I could really feel for her.
Overall, even with my lack of concern or empathy for the main character... there was value in the story. Just because we are broken, doesn't mean we stay broken. I would still recommend the read.
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on May 10, 2018
Honestly, I read this for school. And usually I'm excited about the books my instructors assign, and I was optimistic about this one too, but in the end I finished it because I had to.

Strayed has gone through a lot of interesting things in her life, had a lot of interesting detours - ironic that her name is Strayed, no? But her writing, to me, was rather uninteresting. It was like she was using the most colorless language as possible on purpose. As if to say, "Look I know my story sounds wild, I know some of this seems unbelievable, but it really happened so let me give everything to you as book facts and maybe that will help?" But it didn't. I absolutely did not care about, and I don't even feel guilty that I don't care. That's really unusual for me, I'm usually debilitatingly empathetic.

This book drove me crazy because it was packed with things that should be so gripping, so enthralling, but Strayed's writing might as well have put me to sleep. I was so bored and so ready to be done with this book. I was just really disappointed.
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on October 18, 2016
This was a good book, and very revealing, but I found a number of things disconcerting. I think this is an appropriate book for a younger audience -- for girls, in particular. I imagine readers in their late teens and early twenties would love every word. However, I'm a little more worldly and experienced, and so found myself wanting to get to the end. Here are some things that bothered me: 1. The lack of experience of the hiker, Cheryl. Any other person taking on the long Pacific hike would have died -- if not from infections, from something else like starvation or dehydration. 2. The repeat scenes -- walk, find a little village and drink Snapple, meet some people, say goodbye to people, fear for her life, getting lost, sleeping in horrid conditions that would have resulted in pneumonia for most people, no cash, memories of her mother and the loss, drugs, turning away from her devoted husband, etc. etc.
Next for me -- the movie. I'll be very interested in seeing how Cheryl's journey is portrayed on the silver screen.
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on December 13, 2014
My son attempted the PCT in another record-breaking year of snow fall and precipitation. He began at the Mexican border and had to revise his plan so much that by the time he reached Los Angeles, he was demoralized and depleted and decided to abandon his dream. After reading this memoir, I can appreciate why this probably happens to a good percentage of those who, with the best intentions and planning, fall prey to the dangers and vagaries of this infamous trail. Having said all that, Cheryl Strayed's story is inspirational and cautionary at the same time. With boots a size too small and a pack that weighed far more than she should have attempted, she soldiered on and managed to accomplish most of her original dream. The only part that seemed gratuitous to me was the sexual encounter. One of her stated reasons for embarking on this journey was to put away her dangerous lifestyle of too many sexual encounters and dabbling in dangerous drug consumption. Seems she should have thought long and hard about what she was doing and should have foregone that useless exercise. For me, it cheapened her. Having said that, I enjoyed this story and would recommend it...I'm also looking forward to seeing the film...hope it doesn't disappoint.
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