Monday, August 10, 2015

Review: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail – Cheryl Strayed


Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail – Cheryl Strayed


At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. 
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.


Review: When Cheryl Strayed was twenty-six years old, she decided to hike 1000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. She hoped that the trip would help her come to terms with her mother’s death and the disintegration of her family.

I’m a little surprised by the reviews of this memoir on Goodreads. Some people seem to really, really hate the author. Memoirs are difficult to review because it’s nearly impossible to separate the author/narrator/main character from the book, but I’m going to try. I’m not comfortable judging a human and the decisions she made twenty-something years ago. The author writes about her life honestly in this book. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything. She doesn’t pretend to be perfect. It is hard for the reader to feel sympathy for her at times, but that didn’t bother me while I was reading. I think it took a lot of bravery to tell this story.

Now, for the book. I enjoyed it immensely. I’m very interested in backpacking, so I’m probably preprogramed to like these kinds of books, but there is a lot of content in this story that will appeal to non-backpackers. The majority of the plot focuses on the Pacific Crest Trail, but Cheryl doesn’t spend all of her time hiking. She occasionally gets off the trail and meets interesting people. There are also flashbacks to her childhood and her mother’s death from cancer.

I have read a few other books about hiking. The descriptions can sometimes feel very repetitive: “There’s a tree, there’s another tree, there’s a lake, there’s another tree.” This book doesn’t feel repetitive at all. There’s enough description that I can picture the scenes, but there isn’t so much that it bogs down the story. The plot moves quickly, and I was never bored.  

The writing isn’t phenomenal, but it’s powerful enough that I was completely engaged in the story. I was rooting for Cheryl. I wanted her to reach the end of the trail, and I wanted her to be a better, happier person when she got there.

The only thing that really bothers me about this book is the horse-euthanasia scene. I’m not overly sensitive to that type of thing, but the scene feels out-of-place. The book is fairly upbeat right before that scene, and it goes back to being upbeat immediately after. It feels like a super-graphic death scene just comes out of nowhere. After the scene ended, I actually stopped reading and thought, What the hell was that? I was so blindsided that it took me a while to get back into the story.

I read memoirs because I want a small glimpse into someone else’s life. This book gave me exactly what I wanted. The author/narrator does make some controversial decisions in her life, but the book is still worth reading. I enjoyed it.     

8 comments:

  1. I am glad you liked this! I agree it is hard to separate feeling again her/judge her. I liked the book but really didn't start to enjoy it until she was on the trail. All er backstory was a bit slow for me. But I loved meeting all the new people and places along the trail and watching her figure stuff out throughout her time. Great review!

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    1. The backstory didn’t bother me, but the stuff that happened on the trail was way, way more interesting than her past.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. I actually do plan to read this book at some point, so I am glad you were able to review it! I think it is difficult to critique a memoir as well because it is a real life story and something that someone really experienced. I am glad you liked it, even though it is harsh at some times.

    Check out my recent post: http://olivia-savannah.blogspot.fr/2015/08/top-10-reasons-why-i-love-kung-fu-panda.html

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    1. I’m never sure what to say in my reviews of memoirs. I’m a book reviewer, not a human reviewer. :)

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  3. I've heard so much about this book, especially since the movie came out! It's definitely waaaaay off from what I'd usually read, but I am intrigued. I really think this is a book my dad would love! He's really into the Appalachian Trail, so this could be really interesting for him. Great review! :D

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

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    1. Most of the book focuses on the trail, so if he’s interested in hiking, he’ll probably like it. The author/narrator is a little frustrating to read about at times.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

      Delete
  4. I listened to the audio book and had mixed feelings. I enjoyed reading about Cheryl's hiking journey and the different people she encountered, but while I empathized with her losing her mom, I didn't think the problems she was dealing with were that traumatizing.

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    1. She does have some extreme reactions to some of the things that happen. I tried not to judge her too much for them.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

      Delete

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