Rummanah Aasi
 Wild is one of my quick picks for an adult nonfiction read. It is a powerful, blazingly honest, inspiring memoir of woman who took herself out of her personal hell by tackling a solo, monumental journey into the wildness which proves that no matter how dark things can get you do have enough strength to carry on.
Description (from Goodreads): At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone. Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

Review: Wild is an unsentimental memoir of the author's three-month solo hike from California to Washington along the Pacific Crest Trail. Following the death of her mother, Strayed's life quickly disintegrated. Family ties from her siblings and stepfather melted away. Feeling emotionally numb, she dived head first into infidelity and drug use, which resulted in a divorced from her decent husband and best friend. For the next four years, her life quickly spiraled into darkness and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Strayed is very frank about her flaws and her writing is very candid, which is what drew me to her story. Her dark days will resonate with others who shared a similar event(s) in their own lives, but her means to find peace within herself may be a bit far fetched but not impossible.
  While waiting in line at an outdoors store, Strayed read the back cover of a book about the Pacific Crest Trail. Initially, the idea of hiking the trail became an abstract idea, something that might be listed on someone's bucket list, but then it quickly became a goal. With absolutely no backpacking experience whatsoever, being woefully under-prepared for the wilderness, out of shape and carrying a ridiculously overweight pack, the author set out from the small California town of Mojave, toward a bridge crossing the Columbia River at the Oregon-Washington border. Many would call her decision to be idiotic and impulsive and they would be right in many ways as she suffered aches, pains, loneliness, blistered, bloody feet, persistent hunger, and suspicious people along the way. Personally, I cringed when she made several decisions that could have easily been deadly yet I couldn't help but admire the author's tenacity of sticking to her goal when there were several times she could have easily stopped. I found a small part of myself connected to her plight and her conversational tone engaged me throughout her story. Strayed discovered a new found sense of awe; for overcoming her limitations along with gaining her inner and physical strength while hiking the PCT. She is stunned by how the trail both shattered and sheltered her as she released all her emotional baggage along the way.
  Some readers have found that Wild is a book filled with self pity and wallowing, but aren't most memoirs just that? If you're looking for a book talking about the wonders of hiking and the Pacific Crest Trail, Wild will surely disappoint you as there is not much discussion to be found. If you are in the mood for a candid and an inspiring narrative, Wild may work for you.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: This book contains strong language, drug use, and frank discussion of sex. Recommended for mature teens and adults only.

If you like this book try: Into the Wild by Jon Krauker, Claiming Ground by Laura Bell, A Blistered Kind of Love: One Couple's Trial by Trail by Angela Ballard, Cactus Eaters by Dan White
4 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    I don't think this is the book for me, I'm not usually big on memoirs, but I'm extremely impressed she stuck with the entire PCT. A wilderness girl I am not, I think I maybe would have made it a day on the trail and that would have been enough for me! Glad you saw past the wallowing and really enjoyed this one Rummanah!


  2. I actually like memoirs like this. As long as she discovers herself in the end, I don't mind whining. Gotta start somewhere, right? :)


  3. This is a book that is on my radar since it takes place here in my neck of the woods. After reading your review I am still undecide, I think some of the stupid decisions would really bother me as well, but I am still interested! Thanks for the insight!


  4. I'm more in the self-pity and wallowing camp. I read this for book club and really didn't like it. While I felt bad for her hard childhood and the death of her mother, I just couldn't respect her after she cheated on her husband, did so much drugs, and had sex with anything that moved. And then the whole hike was so unprepared and she kept doing stupid things. Plus she didn't seem adequately regretful of the mistakes of her past.

    But I know that many people did love it, so opinions can definitely differ :-)


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