“Wild” by 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.

-excerpt taken from http://www.cherylstrayed.com/wild_108676.htm


Usually I come off a book raring to write my review.  This particular story left me feeling speculative, and thankful to be quite honest.  I needed a few days to soak it in and meditate on it.  This book could not have come at a better time for me.  I read it, only knowing that many friends had dubbed it a “must-read”, and it was next on my TBR list.  What I didn’t know was that it would be therapeutic for me in a strange and sad time of my life.

This book is a memoir, and is largely about life after the loss of the author’s mother.  I lost my own mom just three months ago, on November 5th, 2016.  The similarities between the way she described her emotions and the way I have felt are so similar that I could have written this book myself.  Her descriptions are raw and honest; The story so poignant and relatable to my own grief.

She dealt with her grief first in unhealthy ways, including hard drug use, infidelity, and ultimately divorce.  She was smart enough to realize her life was in shambles, and needed to do something to get it back on track.  She decided on a whim, after spotting a guidebook about the Pacific Crest Trail (or PCT), that she would set off on a lengthy backpacking trek, starting in California and ending in Oregon, over 1000 miles in three months.  With little to no experience, she embarked on a journey that tested her physically – she lost most of her toenails, got scraped up a few times, faced dehydration, and carried a backpack (dubbed “Monster”) that was way too heavy for her; tested her emotionally – she walked mostly alone across the country while grieving the loss of her beloved mother.  The trail was long and arduous, but ultimately led to her healing.  The unhealthy life choices she was using to fill the void her mother had left were no longer her desires when she finished.

It almost feels silly to write a review on a book so many have already found and know to be wonderful.  I couldn’t leave the experience I had reading it alone, and never speak of it.  It was too profound, too wonderful, too perfect.  It helped me when I didn’t expect it to.  Cheryl Strayed, if you ever read this by some crazy chance – Thank you.  You helped me.  You spoke about a subject that tends to not be spoken about because it is painful.  Those of us who lose mothers too young are in a special club that we didn’t ask to be a part of, but can band together in the void.  We can come together and understand each other.  We can say “it’s not fair” without somebody rolling their eyes and saying “the world isn’t fair”, and we will understand each other.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

I give this book a 5 out of 5 stars, and I wish I could give it 6.  It was the best memoir I’ve read.  I enjoyed every chapter, every paragraph, every honest word.  Everybody should read this book.