Book Review: Wild
ashley | Every now and then I feel like I’ve fallen a bit off track. We all do. It happens a lot towards the end of a year when I start to get really reflective and critical of what I have and haven’t accomplished throughout the year. Usually when this happens, I find myself reading books about women who have also fallen a bit off track, and since this has been getting a boost lately because of the movie, I thought I would pick up Wild by Cheryl Strayed and see how she found herself on the Pacific Crest Trail.
Overly eager and unprepared, like I would be if it were me embarking on a big hike, I jumped right in and expected to get started on this epic, life changing journey. But Strayed keeps us beating around the bush for a while, filling us in on her back story and what lead her to take those first few steps on the PCT. It is, after all, a memoir of sorts and I would never fully understand her journey without first understanding everything she was leaving behind.
I read a few reviews before getting into this and a few people said this was a very narcissistic and self absorbed tale. A lot of people had very few nice things to say about the book or the author. I get it, it’s amazing that this woman, this unprepared and naive and stubborn woman, survived this trip to write about it. Within the first few days on the trail it was painfully clear Strayed had no idea what she was getting herself into and was severely undereducated about backpacking. She slept too often, her pack was too heavy, she had no idea what kind of terrain or weather conditions she would encounter on her trip.
She’s a giant fool for ever thinking that she would be able to do something like this, it was a death wish, basically. Which is what makes it so amazing and inspiring to see where she ended up in the end. Personally, I think that foolishness is exactly what makes this book so great. She needed something to push her, something to challenge her, something to show her exactly what she was capable of and who she was as a person. Something to make her feel alive again. Maybe she was a bit extreme, setting out to conquer a trail like this, I wouldn’t necessarily follow in those footsteps, but I think the majority of us could learn a thing or two from throwing all worries and logic to the wind and embarking on such a ridiculous quest.
This memoir seems like it was more therapeutic for Strayed than anything else. Her mother’s death hit her hard and a lot of this book is reminiscing about her, about their time together. It strays a little bit from the PCT journey and obviously didn’t mean as much to me as it did Strayed. I feel like a terrible person saying that, but that is a very personal thing that only Strayed can specifically relate to, those parts kind of lost me along the way.
Strayed had a very vivid way of telling her tail. It could have been a boring account of her hike, but it flowed like a story and kept pulling me along with it. I felt like I was hiking right next to her. Which is fitting considering somewhere towards the end, I was kind of tired and bored of the trail and ready for this journey to end. It was an inspiring and interesting read, but once the end was in sight I was ready to race right towards it and forget about everything else I might be missing along the way.
I think a lot of people have issues with Strayed’s motives, her throwing away a marriage without really knowing whether she wanted to or not, falling into a careless junkie lifestyle that seemed otherwise out of character. It doesn’t make much sense, but it makes perfect sense for someone who is trying to find herself. Her mother’s death hit her hard and it doesn’t seem like she was able to recover. That will do something even to the strongest of people. To embark on a trip like this and then write about it, reliving it over and over, well that’s pretty amazing. I enjoyed reading about Strayed’s journey, her wild trek, it was a feel good, inspiring book that can really resonate if you, yourself, are looking to find your own path. How wild it is, indeed.