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I haven't read the book yet - I'm waiting for it to come in at the library. She says in the book that she changed her name to Strayed after she divorced her husband. That's very weird. A search on the internet says she has two siblings, both with last names Strayed also. I guess she changed their names too. I've done long distance hiking and on the surface I doubt her integrity. Any comments?

Claire Goodbody Why would you doubt anyone's integrity simply because they change their name? People change their names all the time. I very much doubt their integrity changes to match. I believe the author when she writes her story. Her hike was a remarkable feat of endurance and growth.
Gina Lora, you doubt her integrity because she changed her name? She was getting divorced. On the divorce papers, it asked what name she was planning to use after the divorce. Some people revert to their maiden name. She felt she wanted a "new" last name since she never really knew her dad, so Nyland had no meaning to her. She learned she could pick anything she wanted, and Strayed fit her, for a number of reasons, not just because she strayed in her marriage, Diane. I don't find her narcissistic at all. This book IS, after all, a memoir, so it IS all about her...duh. I found the book very honest. She is honest about the stupid things she did, the ways she screwed up her life, and the things she learned about herself along the trail. I thought it was great.
Lora I have read the book since writing the earlier comment and I was very impressed. If she chooses to use different names, that seems irrelevant. Her book is well written and I'm sure authentic. I'm a hiker and a backpacker. She really had some life changing experiences, and the hike healed her. Very good read. I'm sure the movie will be equally good.
Jenifer Calandra I am not sure where you learned that Leif and Karen's last name is also Strayed; everything I have read indicates their last name is Nyland, Cheryl's maiden name.
Kira I changed my first name legally when I was thirty for personal reasons (my last name I had already changed when I got married), not on a whim as Cheryl did but as a deliberate act, separating the first 30 years of my life from the remainder (at 63 now, I've had my "new" name longer than my original one). Does that make me unreliable? If I should write my memoirs, including the period of time when I had that other name, would I be lying? I know that most people don't understand why I changed my name, especially my relatives, but that's okay. I'm not that person with that other name any more, and haven't been for a long time. I totally understand why Cheryl needed to change her name. She wanted to leave her old life behind. That was her first step toward doing that.
Helen Deignan I am doubtful about the sincerity of her writing. Too much moaning in the first 100 pages for me. I keep hankering after the humour in Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods, but will persevere. I have absolutely no interest in the film.
Becky Leuenhagen Whereslora, I think once you read the book your questions will be answered. The last name Strayed, answered in the book. And as far as the long distance hiker, she was not, and writes of her mistakes. It is by no means a book about/guide for hiking. It seemed to me more of a growth of self. Now that I've finished the book, I'm looking forward to seeing the movie.
Bonhomme there seems to be plenty of doubt as to the validity of her claims from people who have hiked the trail.
Books, Brews & Booze Does it matter?

If someone already doubts a person's integrity before even delving deeper into learning what makes them tick, whether it's an author who writes a memoir or a person one meets at an event, I can't imagine that person is being approached with an open mind, heart and soul.
Karen Rush These statements seem pretty judgemental for someone who hasn't yet read the book.
Diane She changed her name to Strayed (the verb) after screwing around on her husband and trying to make it all about her, the victim. She's a total narcissist. Most people who screw around on their spouse somehow manage to keep their surname but then, how would we know how special she is?
Dell Regarding her integrity as a writer, you might consider this: http://montclairsoci.blogspot.com/201...
Matt This was marketed as nonfiction, but you're right to be suspicious. This book may have been informed by biographical experiences, but I agree with you - I think it's a fictional narrative.
Joyce It is a book. I do not read this as something that has to be a 100 percent truthful account of her journey. I read it as a book that is anchored in a real event. Does it matter if her name wasn't strayed? It's more the idea of the name change that does it: a metaphor that you can turn your life around at any given time, that sometimes a break and an ending is a beginning.
Kathie Her maiden name is Nyland, not Strayed. According to her book, she grew up in Minnesota with 2 siblings, an older sister, Karen, and a younger brother, Lief. Both she and her sis were married by the time their mother died in 1990. Strayed's brother was a senior in high school in 1990 (again according to the book).
Traditionally women take the name of their spouse so I didn't do a quick internet search for Karen but there is a Lief Nyland in Minnesota who graduated from high school in 1990.
Jean I am both amused and alarmed at how judgmental many of these reviews are; judgmental of the character of the writer, judgmental of her life, judgmental of her accounts of her PCT experience, and all written by people who admit they haven't read the book yet. Y'll need to do some thinking about what a "book review" is... Going forward, please use the internet to share helpful information, not as perceived permission to tear apart people and books that you do not know. Be decent.
Shlomo Levi The criticisms that her changed name, albeit the same as her siblings makes a fraud is unjustifiable and hateful, at best. We read books not to get personal, but to learn and critique the essence of the book, not the person per se. Doubt her integrity if you so wish, but this is a brave woman who has done something few people can dare do, and all you can do is to put her down. How reckless and mean the american heart.
Morris Nelms
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)
Amber Delaine She has three siblings. Their last name is not Strayed. (The half sibling was not mentioned in the book and was only discovered after publishing.) She has two children. Their last names are Strayed Lindstrom.

It is very common for people to change their last names. Not everyone wants to keep their ex's last name or their maiden name for personal reasons.
Carolyn I doubt her integrity simply because she took heroin. That's a death wish in action but it is fascinating to see what someone else chooses in life. I am glad I never chose drugs or alcohol-- at some point it chooses you and that is addition. I did like to go along on her hiking adventure. I am a woman of the woods and ocean and I love being solo. The part where she was grieving her mother was difficult to read. The grief was unrelenting. To grieve that much seems so self destructive. My mom died when I was barely 9 and I thought that only children grieved with that much intensity.. I didn't know it could be that terrible for adults. But everyone is different and can experience grief differently; She is a good writer, wonderful dexterity with language. Reading the book is my daily treat
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by Cheryl Strayed (Goodreads Author)
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