For my birthday I received the new book “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” from my boss. I had been looking forward to reading it after hearing an interview with the author on the local NPR station, Portland’s KBOO 90.7. I finished it in 96 hours–pretty fast for me these days, since I’ve barely had time to read with my crazy schedule.
A review of “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed
After her mother died at an early age, permanently scarring her and leaving her without any sort of home base or support system, Cheryl Strayed went on a head-clearing hike from the Mojave Desert in California to the Bridge of the Gods in Washington State, following the Pacific Crest Trail. While preparing as best she knew how, she was completely flummoxed by her lack of “street-smarts” on the trail and made multiple errors in judgement, creating an entertaining yet sympathetic retrospect for her audience.
It was a fast read, but an interesting one. I flipped through the pages, chomping at the bit to see what idiotic newbie mistake Cheryl was going to make next on the trail (and in her flashbacks)—hey, we all like to watch disasters…that’s why America loves reality TV. She didn’t disappoint me. I hope she realizes how lucky she is. She definitely had a guardian angel on her shoulder, because no matter how many mistakes she made, and how many times a weird situation could have gone terribly wrong, something always saved her. She didn’t get off scot-free, but things could have been a lot worse.
At the end, it seemed there was a slightly mad scramble to tie up the ending in a neat little bow with her final “summit” and letting go of her mother once and for all. I wasn’t entirely convinced that Cheryl experienced a great epiphany about herself and her mom during her hike, but I liked reading about the journey. Honestly I would have enjoyed it without all the inspirational nuggets, but that is because I’m a hiker myself and I like reading about adventures on the trail.
I wasn’t bodily moved like I was with the travel memoir “Eat, Pray, Love,” but I’m glad I read it, and I’m glad Cheryl wrote it. It obviously meant a lot to her. Maybe her guardian angel was her mother’s spirit all along…but it turns out I feel pretty indifferent about that.
I would recommend it to hikers and locals.