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Monday, February 9, 2015

Wild: Lost and Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

This has been on my list for a while, and since I wanted to see the movie the other weekend, I picked up Cheryl Strayed's Wild: Lost and Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Cheryl is having a real rough go of it. Her mom died young after cancer ravaged her body. Her family dissipated after that. In order to cope, she habitually cheated on her husband and then got hooked on heroin. Life was a mess, and one day she saw a book on hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. So she did it. With no preparation. But she had to do it to become the woman her mother raised her to be. On the way she learns more about herself than she ever could have imagined.

You know how sometimes there are books that are wildly popular, either by word-of-mouth or because some talk show host puts them in her book club? And you know how sometimes you will read those books and it turns out they're actually worth the hype? This was one of them. I would also say that I easily can argue that Gone Girl was as well, but this post is about while and how could the book Wild truly is. (Although I'm not comparing the two books, because they are absolutely not similar. Except there is a great interview with the two of them together worth your time to read.)

I am already a big fan of Cheryl Strayed, and Dear Sugar is both incredibly entertaining and heartbreaking at the same time. I think she is one hell of a writer and her willingness to leave everything on the table for her readers is something that causes the great respect deep down in my heart. I don't know what took me so long to pick up this book, they may have very well been the hype surrounding it. When I knew it was being turned into a movie, I decided to wait until I was ready to see the film. Normally it wouldn't be in such a rush, because while the book was phenomenal, it's not like there's a whole lot of nailbiting action that happens. However, with the filming on the Pacific Crest Trail, I would like to see those expanses on the screen.

That being said, the crux of the book is really not about the action but about the soul-searching that happens. I love that this was not a technical know-how book. There's nothing in this book that will give you survival tips for going on a 90 day trail hike yourself. What it will give you, however, is the story of a broken woman who needs this trip, and all of her inexperience and unpreparedness, to get back to the person she was always meant to be. Her life has fallen apart – her mother has died, her marriage is falling apart, and she's made such horrible life choices that she makes your shut-in neighbor look like Miss America. This trip isn't about a hiker who is taking her dream trip. It's about a woman who needs to be torn completely down in order to build herself back up. And it's written by looking a woman ten years past who knows that this was her last desperate attempt at making herself.

It's a splendidly beautiful book that will make you turn inward and examine what you believe about yourself. Could you do something like this? I don't know if I could, but I do hope that if I ever find myself in the same situation that Cheryl did that I would be willing to take such drastic measures to pull myself back together.

For purchase below.

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