Happyreader's Reviews > Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
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's review
Dec 29, 13

bookshelves: bio-and-memoir, travel
Read in April, 2012

So much baggage. As a backpacker myself, I cringed to read about hoisting a backpack so heavy that she could only strap it on while sitting on the ground. How she managed to balance that pack and not let it accidentally fling her off the Sierras, even after Albert put that bag on a diet, is beyond me. And those tight boots that ate her toenails and mangled her feet into a fine pulp!! If nothing else, those boots end up being a fine advertisement for REI’s amazing customer service. While I’m happy she survived, her early hiking tales scared me. I hope there are no hapless hikers thinking they too can head out as unprepared as her. And it took so long to get to the actual hiking. Like her backpack, there’s so much personal drama to unload. So much grief. Over her mom’s death, over the childhood she didn’t get, over her self-destroyed marriage and other poor life choices. If you’re simply looking for tales of adventure on the PCT, you’re going to be disappointed. The PCT is only the backdrop and therapist to all that personal drama. You slog through overwrought drama more than scenic mountainscapes in this book. Thank heavens, by the end of the trip, she’s unloaded and discarded a lot of the figurative and literal baggage. Backpacking really is magic like that, if the excess weight doesn’t fling you over the edge first.
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Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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fivesunflowers This is a very accurate review. I was scared for her many times during her story -- I am a very novice hiker and there are times when I have feelings of 'anything can happen to me here, there is no one else around'.. She was HORRIBLY unprepared especially when she was walking around with only 25 cents to her name for a week! But, you know, I admired her perseverance to keep going and finish what she started. It was something she really needed to do.

Happyreader Agreed and exactly why the book is worth reading to the end. The first part of the book is rough to get through because of all the poor choices she makes but she does show that perseverance - and the help of kind souls - can help you break through to a better place. I'm guessing all the torture she suffers at the beginning of the hike will dissuade other inexperienced hikers from following in her footsteps, at least until they're better prepared.

Gail Del greco Totally agree that despite all of her personal challenges and her grief, this book was about perseverance and finding herself. You need to be prepared for "her story" rather than expect a panoramic dialogue about the PCT. I admired her strength and her perseverance and her desire to change her life. She was as prepared for her journey as she could have been at the time and could have quit several times. But she didn't. She pressed on and kept going. I saw the parallels to life's journey. One can assume a passive role in life and just react to challenges versus making a conscience choice to be proactive and make a change. I admired her for that.

Linda Snyder I agree.. that's why we say "Live and Learn " ... she seemed to grow up quite a bit on her journey.

K.K. I don't think you have to worry about people copying her example considering this isn't a guidebook. It's a memoir. Which is also why a reader shouldn't expect a panoramic dialogue about the PCT. It is also exactly why the story begins with her failed preparation for packing and the anxiety one feels about whether or not she will make it. But we know she does, because she has lived to tell the tale. Memoirs require a story, and that's what she has provided quite well. She has referenced a seemingly excellent guidebook for those looking for guidance.

Sonia I couldn't agree with your review more!

Lisa Williams Why are people so mean about this book? Nasty slams saying "the PCT is only a backdrop to her personal struggles." Yeah, just like the back of the book describes. If you want a guide book, go to REI. She is honest about her mistakes, she doesn't blame anyone else in this book for her choices but herself. Plus, she was 21 and almost two decades have past. What dumb things and bad choices did we ALL make at 21? Maybe it's fun for some "reviewers" to be mean spirited however many of us can actually relate to her growth and learning. Considering her book is on the top five in the New York Times this week (and for the past 36 weeks) and is being made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon, I'd say it's a success.

fivesunflowers Lisa wrote: "Why are people so mean about this book? Nasty slams saying "the PCT is only a backdrop to her personal struggles." Yeah, just like the back of the book describes. If you want a guide book, go to RE..."

Totally agree... there was another thread where a reader was so disgusted by Cheryl's "promiscuity, drug abuse" and if you will believe, this reader was also offended by Cheryl describing how she handled her monthly period during her hike. I mean, really!? There was a thread where people basically bashed her and listed all the things that the book SHOULD have been, but hello, not your book, not your journey.

Happyreader Lisa wrote: "Why are people so mean about this book? Nasty slams saying "the PCT is only a backdrop to her personal struggles." Yeah, just like the back of the book describes. If you want a guide book, go to RE..."

A four-star review is mean? And isn't "the PCT is only a backdrop to her personal drama" descriptive? I think you missed the point of the review and of the book which was that she needed to discard a lot of baggage and she did (and was lucky to live to tell the tale).

message 10: by Jenn (new) - added it

Jenn But to me that's what hiking and backpacking is: a chance to sort through the baggage and learn more about myself. I can connect in that sense but am amazed she survived to tell the tale considering her experience. She makea me look like a veteran backpacker.

Sandy Love the book and your review too

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