Author: Cheryl Strayed
Rating: 4 / 5 stars
“I think it’s neat you do what you want. Not enough chicks do that, if you ask me – just tell society and their expectations to go fuck themselves. If more women did that, we’d be better off.”
Cheryl’s life has never been easy. An abusive father. A mother that resented the life she never got to have for herself. Siblings unwilling to tough it out and help when their mother got sick. A stepfather that found a new life for himself after her mother’s death. Cheryl didn’t make her life easy either. Cheating on her husband. Heroine with her boyfriend. She needed a change. She found it on the PCT (not PCP).
Cheryl spent many of her years on a rural ranch. Though she’d never been backpacking before, she decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, which I honestly don’t know much about (as an East Coaster, my obsession lives on the AT). Though my life has never been as difficult as Cheryl’s, I can understand the journey, the determination, the fear. The need to find yourself, to find the answer to a question you cannot pen. To escape from the harsh realty of the here and now and believe that, on the other end of the trail, you will arrive to a fresh life with a fresh view. You can leave all the bad choices and bad decisions and pain behind. And a few of your toenails as well.
Cheryl was honest in this memoir. She admitted she isn’t perfect. She admitted that many times along the way she thought about quitting. She admitted the pain – both physical and mental – that a trek like this takes. And she admitted her fear – and the generosity and luck – along the way.
I loved her story. Her grit. Her purpose. The only thing I didn’t like about Wild was the narrative’s tendency to shift to flowery imaginary and writing. Cheryl was an English major and aspiring writer, so I understand why she did it. She flexed her literary muscles to prove her ability to be a writer. The style just didn’t always seem to fit the content. Her mother’s death. The perilous trek. The roughneck characters she met. It wasn’t really a flowery quest. Still, it’s a story worth reading, if only to put your own life into perspective. It isn’t a novel to read for someone who is researching to do their own hike on the PCT or AT. There is no technical terms, no suggestions on equipment. This novel is about the personal journey more than the physical one. And it was a monumental quest. Congratulations, Cheryl. She strayed back to her path.