Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Cres...

Title:Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0307592731
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:315 pages

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail Reviews

  • Amanda Hicks

    I have read a great many criticisms of this book by people who either expected it to be solely about the PCT itself, or were offended by the author's use of coarse language and discussion of her sexual proclivities. And that's fine; all of those readers were obviously seeking something other than what this book had to provide. Myself, I enjoyed it from cover to cover. A longtime lover of the PCT, I already know about the trail from end to end. I was more interested in how the author used a rathe

    I have read a great many criticisms of this book by people who either expected it to be solely about the PCT itself, or were offended by the author's use of coarse language and discussion of her sexual proclivities. And that's fine; all of those readers were obviously seeking something other than what this book had to provide. Myself, I enjoyed it from cover to cover. A longtime lover of the PCT, I already know about the trail from end to end. I was more interested in how the author used a rather spontaneous journey along the trail to help herself face demons and come to grips with her mother's death. There are moments where her emotions are so clearly spelled out on the page, and then there are times where you have to read between the lines. But every step of the way you're alongside her, watching as she learns to accept, to embrace, to let go, and how the PCT weaves through that.

    This is a book I will most definitely read multiple times over the years. I almost regret buying it in Kindle format because I can think of at least five people I'd love to loan it to and demand they read it immediately.

  • Cathy

    A self-absorbed, ill-prepared woman, 26 years old, leaves her husband (a decent guy) for no good reason, mucks her life up even further with drugs and reckless sex, then engages in some vacuous navel-gazing on the Pacific Crest Trail. As a woman hiking alone she gets all kinds of special treatment and help from fellow hikers. She loses a few pounds, gets some muscles and some sun-bleached hair and calls her work done.

  • Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside)

    Okay. I gave myself plenty of time to cool off before writing this review, because man, was I ever

    at this book by the time I finished reading it. And I really wanted to love it! I'm a backpacker, and I've often fantas

    Okay. I gave myself plenty of time to cool off before writing this review, because man, was I ever

    at this book by the time I finished reading it. And I really wanted to love it! I'm a backpacker, and I've often fantasized about doing the PCT solo (a pretty stupid idea for anybody who's not much more experienced than I am.) I was excited about a memoir of one woman's experience on the trail. I dug into this book eagerly, but within a few chapters my enthusiasm began to deflate, and by the end I was basically doing this at every other paragraph:

    After some cooling-off time, I gave it what I feel is a very generous two stars. That bonus star is for the first couple of chapters, which do in fact pull a person in, and which do share some impressive openness on the author's part. I was particularly impressed with her ability to share her weird dreams about killing her mother, which were raw and real and touching and disturbing. Also, the scene where she recalls how

    was particularly affecting. Otherwise, this book just doesn't have all that much to offer. Cheryl Strayed's life doesn't, so far, have an unusual amount of sadness or tragedy or inspiring moments -- the kind of things that make for good memoir reading. Or if her life does contain those things, she's not a good enough writer to make the reader feel it.

    Brief rundown: Strayed lost a loving parent with whom she had a great relationship, and had a very difficult time accepting that loss. Not particularly different from the experiences of many people I've met. As a result of her grief, she lost all impulse control and sabotaged her marriage to a really wonderful man, then started using heroin. Okay, that's a little more interesting, but unfortunately the full impact of these momentous choices is lost in an unblazed forest of vague, unremarkable prose and confused chronology, making it hard to give a damn. At the nadir of her downward spiral, she hears about the PCT and just decides to hike it, which is not surprising, I guess, since she's proudly established that she suffers from a total lack of impulse control (a condition she never really seems to try to correct throughout the course of the book.)

    So hike it she does, all unprepared, derping off into the wilderness, as is par for the course, apparently. She can't even be assed to read the essential (and very short, I might add) book

    , an absolute essential for anybody who determines to walk off into the wilderness and survive by whatever she can carry on her back. Oh, she bothered to buy the book, but she neglected to read even a page of it on the flight from Minnesota or wherever she's from to southern California, although she brought it on board the plane intending to educate herself BEFORE she began her blissed-out hippie walkabout. But I guess, hey, free peanuts and a bad Adam Sandler movie, so....

    If you're getting the impression from the review that this memoir fails mostly because Strayed just doesn't make herself a very sympathetic character, you're getting the right idea. But it gets worse. Once she actually gets the high of hiking (under the weight of a pack HALF HER BODY WEIGHT, for god's sake) the book becomes Mary Sue Goes on a Nature Walk.

    Everybody -- yes, literally

    except the gay guy and a couple of women wants to have sex with her. She is that irresistible, all hairy and smelling like a sasquatch and hobbling from miles of carrying half her body weight. All the men she meets eye her appraisingly. Most of them hit on her and ask her out for dinner and drinks (wait...dinner and drinks on

    Yes, more on that later.) One of them actually does seduce her with the erotic power of his Wilco t-shirt. But the one message she clearly wants you to take away from her allegedly inspiring story of a complete personal transformation on the PCT is that

    Strayed's relentless hotness actually becomes such a prevalent theme that I began laughing out loud each time she described yet another man expressing his interest in her hot hiker self. I laughed a lot, O Reader. I laughed a lot.

    Don't worry; those people she met who didn't want to stick their trekking poles into her worshiped her for other reasons. Every single person she met except for some Totally Grumpy Old Camp Hosts and a couple creepy hunters (who still wanted to have sex with her) couldn't stop telling her how amazing and wonderful she was for hiking the PCT alone. Without any knowledge of how to survive in the wilderness. Everyone said things to reinforce her belief that she was a "badass motherfucking Amazonian queen." Hooray! The world is your oyster, 'cause that's all the world is!

    How did she meet so many people hiking one of the least-trammeled of the world-famous trails on the continent? Well, Strayed actually didn't hike all that much of the trail. She started well north of the Mexican border and had to take a Greyhound around most of the High Sierras, because it was socked in that year and she was unprepared for snow hiking, as she was for most other contingencies. (She got rid of her ice axe after crossing one small snowfield, figuring she wouldn't need it again, y'know, where the elevation got higher. Jesus Christ. Not that she really knew how to use an ice axe anyway.) Her intent was to do only the California stretch, not the entire trail, though she did extend the trip through Oregon after she found out about the impassability of the trail (another thing she should have checked on before she started walking.) So she motored through a good 400+ miles of her "hike," and left the trail for various reasons at various points to hitch-hike instead. Thus, she ended up with a lot of non-hiker people in a lot of non-hiking situations, making this more a memoir of disjointed hippie travel-by-any-means than a memoir of HIKING THE EFFING PCT, as all bookbuyers were led to believe.

    The parts of the book that actually DID take place on the Trail were interrupted by flashbacks to her life with her mother or the destruction of her marriage or her experimentation with heroin or the fallout from these events. So much so, as soon as she began actually talking about the Trail again, I knew to brace myself for yet another forced emotional flashback to the ordinary tragedy of Strayed's typical American life.

    Now, in spite of the choking Mary Sueism of the author's self-depiction, I could forgive her utter dumbness in wandering onto the PCT unprepared

    If her unpreparedness for the PCT taught her how to be a better person, more aware, more focused, more capable, more responsible, more honest about herself, GREAT. Bring on the stupidity. I like a good redemption tale. But it didn't. It didn't! If it did, those passages were lost in editing, or were never written at all. The book's big climax involves Strayed eating a peach in a grove of azaleas, and it's all very pretty and a deer walks into the clearing, and she realizes that

    But even that...

    I could forgive if the writing were good. I will forgive anything for gorgeous writing. My favorite book of all time is

    , and I can forgive the existence of a fictional character like Humbert Humbert because,

    , have you ever read Lolita? (Strayed has, at least once, and apparently learned nothing about the value of lovely writing.)

    But the writing in Wild is, if you will forgive the pun, pedestrian at best. I suppose it's serviceable enough for a general memoir of an American woman having a typical American experience of loss and confusion and coming to accept her past. But for describing nature? Ugh. I wasn't expecting "Annie Dillard hefts a Kelty" from this book, but one would think that a book which alleges to focus on the great transforming power wilderness would at least give a little time or effort to, you know,

    Miles and miles of trail are dismissed in the tritest and most cliche of short sentences, and as far as describing action, Strayed often resorts to such apprentice work as "we kissed and kissed and kissed"; "I walked and walked and walked"; "I cried and cried and cried." I yawned and yawned and yawned. I raged and raged and raged. The most vivid scene of actual trail action I can recall is where she falls asleep beside a muddy tarn and wakes to the feel of frogs hopping all over her body. The rest of the prose fell utterly flat, particularly in scenes involving nature. What a crashing disappointment. And what a rip-off, since readers are buying this book expecting to read about

    And there is virtually none of that here.

    It's no surprise to me that this book was selected for Oprah's Book Club (2.0, no less!) Oprah's selections have become, over the years, increasingly vapid and serving only the "rah-rah, you go girl" branding of the Club. I remember, long ago in a distant past, when she actually chose books that had good writing and fascinating characters. I should have been warned off by the fact that this book was picked, but I wanted

    to read a well-written memoir about the enchantment of backpacking, about the way the strife and the loneliness and the rawness of nature pull the packer into another realm of existence, where life is fragile and valuable, where the sky and the earth and the line of the trail itself live, and by turns cradle and sustain the hiker and try and reject her. Instead, I got "gee, my feet hurt."

    The great American memoir of the PCT still remains to be written. I'm sad that it's not already here, that I don't get to read it. I'm elated that maybe I'll yet have the chance to accomplish what this book didn't accomplish. Maybe I'll get a chance to write it. I'm already planning my own trip from Mexico to Canada. (Not solo, though. That's just dumb.) Who knows.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Jeanette

    3.5 stars

    What kind of dimwit would decide to backpack the Pacific Crest Trail alone with zero backpacking experience? Apparently the same kind of dimwit who would try heroin just because the stranger she spent the night with happens to need a fix.

    If you can tolerate essence of dingbat and overlook her lousy choices and even lousier excuses for those choices, this is actually an enjoyable read. You have to roll your eyes a lot while working to the point where she hits the trail, but after that it

    3.5 stars

    What kind of dimwit would decide to backpack the Pacific Crest Trail alone with zero backpacking experience? Apparently the same kind of dimwit who would try heroin just because the stranger she spent the night with happens to need a fix.

    If you can tolerate essence of dingbat and overlook her lousy choices and even lousier excuses for those choices, this is actually an enjoyable read. You have to roll your eyes a lot while working to the point where she hits the trail, but after that it's quite engaging. I admire her tenacity in finishing what she started, given her cluelessness about backpacking that led to serious mistakes and potentially dangerous miscalculations. If you've never backpacked before, use this as a cautionary tale rather than an excuse to be a ditz. Many people with more backpacking savvy than Cheryl have lost their lives through poor planning or just bad luck.

    The thing that saves this book is that Cheryl writes well. If I can say without unkindness that there's a certain charm in her idiocy, this is what makes her story worth reading. And if you have any backpacking stories of your own, you'll connect with so many of the little things that define the worldwide community of backpackers.

  • Jackie

    I finished this book a couple of days ago, and have not been able to get it out of my mind. I was happily coming to Goodreads to give my glowing review, but was pretty annoyed at a few of the recent reviews, so I wanted to address that first. The bravery and honesty that flowed from those pages touched me deep into my soul, and to see her described as dimwitted and self absorbed is insulting to the author and to those of us who were moved by her story. If you want to read about a well planned tr

    I finished this book a couple of days ago, and have not been able to get it out of my mind. I was happily coming to Goodreads to give my glowing review, but was pretty annoyed at a few of the recent reviews, so I wanted to address that first. The bravery and honesty that flowed from those pages touched me deep into my soul, and to see her described as dimwitted and self absorbed is insulting to the author and to those of us who were moved by her story. If you want to read about a well planned trip by a prepared hiker who has no issues, go and buy a guide book about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. I'm sure you'll find it very informative.

    'Wild' is a beautifully descriptive story about loss, pain, nearly giving up, and pushing on. I felt like I was right there next to Cheryl, my pack so heavy, my feet bleeding and sore, filthy, hungry and lonely. I couldn't believe she kept going, but also would have been crushed if she hadn't. I loved every moment of this book and am just blown away by the author's audacity and courage. I will probably never be able to go three months in the wild, but I sure loved living vicariously through Cheryl in her 'Wild.'


Top Books is in no way intended to support illegal activity. We uses Search API to find the overview of books over the internet, but we don't host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners, please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them. Read our DMCA Policies and Disclaimer for more details.