Book Review: Wild

I promise my Carmel pictures will be up soon, but our internet/cable went out last night and I may or may not have had a minor panic attack about that. Thankfully, it came back on this morning though! So while I didn’t have time to upload the photos from our weekend yet, I wanted to share a review of a fantastic summer read.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed is an vivid memoir about the autho’s solo journey on the Pacific Crest Trail. The book first caught my eye at Barnes and Noble back in March when it first came out because the graphic cover with the single hiking boot grabbed my attention. (What can I say, I do judge a book by its cover sometimes!) The subtitle for the book is “FROM LOST TO FOUND ON THE PACIFIC CREST TRAIL” and that really pulled me as hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail is something that’s always intrigued me so I immediately put this book on my summer reading list. However, I was a little concerned that being a memoir it might be a little dry and boring.
However, after reading this book I can assure you that it’s the opposite of dry and boring, rather it’s extremely emotional and captivating. Cheryl Strayed really takes you on a journey through her life, slowly unfolding all the layers in her past that got her to the point of wanting to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone at age 26. She had experienced a lot of pain–a broken family life, drugs, and the death of her mother at age 22 and she talks about all her experiences in graphic detail. Her writing is so poignant that even though I can’t personally relate to those events, I felt like I was able to understand her feelings. She finally got to a place where she was just really broken and searching and thought that embarking on this journey would really help her to rediscover herself and by the time she actually embarked on the trail, the book already had me really engaged.
For those of you that might not be familiar, the Pacific Crest Trail is a mountain hiking trail that goes from the border of Mexico all the way up through British Columbia, spanning the mountains in California, Oregon, and Washington. Each year, many people hike the entire trail and it’s something that takes months to complete. A few years ago, Cam actually did a 4 day backpacking trip on the PCT, and we’ve often talked about cool it would be to just quit our jobs and do the whole thing. I think what made this book particularly enjoyable for me is that I’ve actually seen a lot of the things she describes which just made it that much more real for me. The landscape in the Sierras of northern California, the beauty of Crater Lake in Oregon, and finally finishing her hike just past Timberline Lodge in Oregon, they’re all places that I’ve been. However the way Cheryl so perfect describes the feeling of being out in the wilderness, I think anyone could really enjoy it even if they’ve never been west of the Mississippi, . The way she talks about the hardships, monotony, and incredible beauty of the trail is really moving as well, and it’s great to see the emotional changes she goes through while walking those hundreds of miles. I also really enjoyed her descriptions of people she met on the trail, and it was really fun to read about the bonds she formed on the trail.
I was so impressed by her bravery throughout the story and how she dealt with challenges and trials on her own in the wilderness. When she did the hike, she was the same age as me, and I can’t even fathom doing that by myself, I’m pretty sure I would have been really freaked out the entire time. Honestly, I can’t exactly say that Wild made me want to hike the entire PCT because it does just seem like such a long, crazy journey that’s a huge investment…at the same time, I think it would be such an awesome thing to accomplish. Regardless of how you feel about hiking, I’d highly recommend the book for a great summer read!
PS: I originally started reading this book for the PBFingers book club…and then didn’t finish it in time to get my review up before she talked about it…but here’s the link to Julie’s review and others!

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