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A Book We’re Loving: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

March 7, 2012


I live mere miles from parts of the Appalachian Trail and I have never once felt the urge to hike more than a few miles of it. I’m a day hiker, not a distance hiker. But after reading WILD by Cheryl Strayed, I have a feeling that will change. The Pacific Crest Trail has called to me ever since I read this book in October – I’ve even had dreams about hiking it! None of my dreams have included rattlesnakes, snow, a pack too heavy to lift or losing a hiking boot – all things that Cheryl actually encountered on the trail during her adventure. I do picture myself as a solo-hiker; like Cheryl I have the need to do it, and do it myself. No assistance, no one to talk to, just me, my pack and the trail. Crazy right? But if Cheryl can do it, I can do it.

This isn’t a book about hiking, this is a book about self realization, the power of the mind and pure female strength. About coming to terms with your demons, or at least putting them to rest. About knowing that everything doesn’t have to be perfect all the time to be right. A impoverished childhood, a broken marriage, the death of her mother – these things all lead Cheryl to PCT, but they didn’t lead her as far from herself as she originally thought. Throughout the narrative the reader learns about her rocky past, her uncertain future and the abusive childhood she endured. You can almost feel the strength radiating off of the pages, even through the most desperate moments on the PCT you can feel Cheryl’s strength.

I haven’t officially planned my PCT hike yet, I’ve looked at maps, I’ve researched the best time of year to avoid the snow, but I haven’t put on a pack and started training. Maybe this Summer I will do an overnight on the AT and see how it goes. I know I will have all of Cheryl’s stories running through my mind, and I know I will face trials, just like she did. And I know I will read Wild again before I begin my PCT adventure.

Booksellers across the country agree with Nic- here are just two of the many rave reviews our adult sales reps received from buyers:

Poignant and honest, Cheryl Strayed’s memoir makes a personal journey of grief into a readable saga that will make you laugh and cheer. After losing her beloved mother to cancer when Cheryl was just 22 and her mother was 45, the hole in Cheryl’s heart wouldn’t heal. She sank into destructive relationships until, after four years, she decided she needed to do something bold to prove to herself that she really was still her mother’s daughter. Her mom was an incredible woman who raised Cheryl and her siblings mostly solo and partly on a Minnesota homestead without electricity, so the idea of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail solo seemed like a fitting way to move through the pain and reclaim her sense of self. Her love/hate relationship with her boots and monstrous pack, her inner strength, and the beauty and power of an 1100-mile trek kept me riveted.

– Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Ave. Books, Seattle, WA

I loved, loved, loved this book! Cheryl’s searingly honest memoir about lost love, her struggle to find her way through intense grief, & her journey of discovery is a remarkable achievement. I was mesmerized by her writing & inspired by her dogged determination to complete her journey, despite the physical & mental hardship. I renewed my vow to not run away from the things/places that scare me.

Adrian Newell, Warwick’s, La Jolla, CA

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2012 10:08 am

    My husband grew up where the Appalachian Trail and Skyline Drive meet. He did some pretty good hikes along it when he was growing up but I’ve only done small ones. This book does sound like it would be fascinating.

  2. March 7, 2012 3:53 pm

    This sounds awesome! As a native northwesterner, hiking the PCT has always been a major goal for me–unfortunately it’s one I keep pushing off into the future. Maybe it’s time to make it happen at last.

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