Book Review: Wild, From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Anna Palmer
Reporter

Author: Cheryl Strayed

As you begin reading even the first several pages of Cheryl Strayed’s passionate memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, your attention will be captured until the end as you read the majestic closing sentence, choking back tears and scrambling to read the acknowledgments and every last remaining page of print.

Yes, Wild will leave you in a state of tranquility and an adventurous spirit and utterly torn apart inside because it ended so perfectly and yet, you didn’t want it to end. Cheryl Strayed was 26 when she set out on her conquest across several states to defeat the well-known West Coast hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. She was still overcoming the shock of the death of her mother four years prior, wallowing in the collapse of her marriage and family, slowly crawling out of a heroin addiction and attempting to find solace in sleeping with random men.

“If I had to draw a map of those four-plus years to illustrate the time between the day of my mother’s death and the day I began my hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, the map would be a confusion of lines in all directions, like a crackling Fourth of July sparkler with Minnesota at it’s inevitable center,” Strayed wrote in Wild.

Strayed takes readers through flashbacks of her life throughout the story of herself on the trail and creates a story not only of a young woman who is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, but a story of emotional healing, restoration and overcoming. I assure you, at certain points you will be near to tears if not sobbing and at others smiling at Strayed’s humorous predicaments and gripping descriptions.

An element that makes Strayed’s life story so fascinating is how brutally honest she is about her struggle with infidelity, her thoughts about people in her life, her dependence on certain relationships and everything else she includes in this book.

Not only does her straight forward yet thoughtful writing style draws readers into the story, it’s her honesty that will make you appreciate it so much more.

Wild remains a story about an amateur. It’s a story about a broken human being, attempting to accomplish something many could easily say she has business doing. This story is not about an expert or experienced individual who has it all together.

Wild so deeply connects with readers because of its average, yet extraordinary feel. As you read the book, you come to realize that although Strayed’s life story seems challenging and heartbreaking at times, it’s not so far off from many other lives. You begin to feel that this could easily be you, although we each have our own unique stories.

Toward the end, Strayed said, “To believe that I didn’t need to reach with my bare hands anymore. To know that seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough. That it was everything. It was my life—like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me.”

Strayed doesn’t try to cover her weaknesses or blame it on someone else. She is open and relatable on all human levels. By the end of the book, you quite possibly will have a desire to drop all responsibilities in your life and hit the Pacific Crest Trail running.

If you start reading now, you’ll be prepared for its movie theater premiere on Dec. 5. Yes, Wild has in fact affected so many readers, it’s becoming a major motion picture directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and starring Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed. But I beg of you, don’t wait for this sensational story to come to screen. Read Wild as the raw, open words of Strayed in print before you see it on screen.

Wild draws readers in like no other memoir I have ever read. Strayed’s passion and unpretentious attitude allows the reader grow into the story and begin to feel what she is feeling, and be able to somewhat experience the emotional side of Strayed’s journey to healing, redemption and becoming the woman she was made to be. As the title infers, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Strayed was lost, not physically, but emotionally. And throughout the attention-capturing, tear jerking, laughter-filled pages, she’s once again, found.

 

We think it deserves: 5/5 stars

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost

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Book Review: Wild, From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

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