(UPDATED) I loved this book. I'm going to hang onto it, because it's so empowering. It starts out with an incredibly eloquent intro by Steve Almond, the original Sugar (I wrote about that at the end of this review), followed by a couple of letters that will rip your heart out. After that it evens out. Most of the book is interesting, dramatic, funny, informative, schadenfreude-delightful, and empowering, and empowering is the reason I'm keeping it. The best example of this is the letter (story) of Sugar working with troubled teen girls, who the system cared squat about. Sugar gets an epiphany and begins telling the girls truthfully, "Look, you're on your own. Nobody's going to save you. You have to save yourself." And at least one of them does.
Once I read that story I realized that Sugar's underlying philosophy is to figure out a way to accept and move on. Don't wait for the guy on the white horse to save you. He probably won't, and anyway, you can do it, and therein is the ultimate freedom. I love that approach! It makes me feel so independent and strong. Even if a person expresses that independence and strength by reaching out to the AVAILABLE resources.
Bottom line, Cheryl Strayed is a genius and a great, empathetic writer. The world is a better place for her being in it. Get the book.
Here are some great excerpts from Steve Almond's intro:
"...within the chaos of our shame and disappointment and rage there is meaning, and within that meaning is the possibility of rescue."
"The Internet can be many things, of course. Too often it's a cesspool of distraction, a place where we indulge in the modern sport of snark and schadenfreude, building the case for our own bigotries, where we mock and thereby dismiss the suffering of others."
"...who else (besides Sugar) is doing this work today? Not the fame merchants of Hollywood, with their explosions and shiny tits, not the for-profit demagogues of the Fourth Estate, and not the politicians who murder morals on behalf of the corporate sponsors and call it policy."
Like I said, get the book.