‘Wild’

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Author: Cheryl Strayed
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Published: 2012 (this edition 2015)
ISBN: 978-0-85789-776-3

After watching the film a few months ago I decided to read Wild– the autobiographical story of Cheryl Strayed’s three month hike along 1100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. I was especially looking forward to reading this book as, like many people, I would love to walk the trail myself someday. Having seen the adaptation I was further drawn to this book because I already knew how fascinating a story it recounts. Strayed really is an amazing example of what perseverance and bravery can allow a person to accomplish, especially when one considers she didn’t complete any training for the gruelling journey.

Readers will admire Strayed for her personality as well as her perseverance, and have sympathy for some of the horrendous bad luck she has suffered. It would be difficult not to sympathise with the pain she describes feeling in the aftermath of her Mom’s untimely death at just 45. This tragedy in particular makes readers realise that life is short and, like the novel as a whole, encourages them to strive to achieve their goals. Strayed is one of the precious few individuals who have actually set out to act on their craziest dreams. What’s particularly inspiring about her journey is the fact it arose for her desire to leave behind her old mistakes, including dabbling dangerously with drug use, and quite literally hike her way to a new life. Some of the things that she encounters on both the physical and mental journeys described in Wild are so amazing one would think they’d been made up if they appeared in a work of fiction! Unlike Strayed herself I’m no feminist, yet I do think her trip was an incredibly brave (or possibly stupid!) thing for a sole woman to do and find her courage somewhat inspiring. Moreover, it beats a pretentious self-help book as a way of getting one’️s life back on track!

Another thing I liked about Wild was the way it’s written- it flows well and beautifully describes the amazing things Strayed saw on the trail. As I have discussed in previous posts, I simply detest the entity that is the stereotypical celebrity autobiography. I am, however, happy to report that Strayed’s story is actually interesting enough to warrant a book recounting it. This is a book one can become lost in and find themselves willing Strayed to carry in with her journey, especially after others around her quit. The people she encountered over the course of her summer are another thing Strayed describes well, making her readers wonder where such people are now and often whether they finished their own journey. These individuals will also restore readers’ faith in humanity, as they often showed unprecedented kindness to Strayed. She is an example of how sometimes the people we know for only a brief amount of time can have the biggest impact on our lives.

As a whole, this book is an amazing account of an experience must of us can only dream of having. Everything from the element of danger to the wait to see if Strayed makes it to the end of her hike will draw readers into this book- a remarkably easy read when one considers the novel’️s potentially dreary subject matter. It’s quite humbling to think of how small one person is in comparison to the big wide world, a feeling which is conveyed when one considers the size of the trail compared to Strayed and other hikers. With regards to Strayed herself, readers will delight in seeing how she grows and progresses over the course of the novel. I’ve never read such a humbling book… Or a book that makes me so inclined to give up all my ambitions and become a drifter over in the US!

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5)

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