Apr 28, 12
Read in April, 2012
WILD is a memoir by a courageous woman. Strayed's mother died before her 44th birthday and Strayed (then 22) tries to hold things together and falls pretty much apart herself in the process. Four years later, in 1995, she hike the PCT alone.
"Everybody's mother dies" I was told in my writing program, and our reactions to grief can be bizarre and destructive. Sometimes people come through hard times with nothing to offer but this is what happened and what I did, which is why memoir often fails to impress me. I read a few reviews of WILD who criticize Strayed for her mistakes—I have the opposite reaction. Here is a woman willing to own her errors rather than cry woe-is-me.
Strayed hikes a brutal trail through high desert and snow, meets rattlesnakes and bears, and makes some friends while determinedly continuing alone. She talks a lot about fear, her mother, her regret for ruining her marriage. She beats herself up physically and accepts blame for everything that goes wrong—and a lot does go wrong. I haven't read a more brutally honest, humorous and humble, and beautifully wise memoir in a long time.
I laughed, moaned, and cried a little at the end. From Southern California to the Columbia River through wild country, she finds herself. This was not my journey, but I could connect to every step. (For the record: I was relieved to finally read a book by a woman willing to admit she enjoyed and needed sex.) People screw up and some of them own up and repair themselves—Strayed is one of the ones who works through. I loved this book.