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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trailby Cheryl Strayed
I know this title is everywhere right now. I was very fortunate to get an advanced copy, and I immediately fell in love. Why? Well, like many, my favorite books are those that seem to have been written just for me. I deeply understood the raw ache of grief, anger, and loneliness. I wanted to run away to fill that black maw with anything other than what I was feeling. Cheryl did too. I didn't take it as far as hiking the Pacific Crest Trail solo, but I laughed out loud at many parts, seeing myself on her journey. Bittersweet, fulfilling, and healing.
This is the amusing, thoughtful, downright zany story of a young woman's eye-opening 1,000-plus-mile trek up the Pacific Crest Trail, all the way to the Bridge of the Gods. It inspired me to undertake my own hike — 10 miles on the Appalachian Trail. It was exhausting!
Synopses & Reviews
A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe — and built her back up again.
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: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than "an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise." But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.
Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
"In the summer of 1995, at age 26 and feeling at the end of her rope emotionally, Strayed resolved to hike solo the Pacific Crest Trail, a 2,663-mile wilderness route stretching from the Mexican border to the Canadian and traversing nine mountain ranges and three states. In this detailed, in-the-moment re-enactment, she delineates the travails and triumphs of those three grueling months. Living in Minneapolis, on the verge of divorcing her husband, Strayed was still reeling from the sudden death four years before of her mother from cancer; the ensuing years formed an erratic, confused time 'like a crackling Fourth of July sparkler.' Hiking the trail helped decide what direction her life would take, even though she had never seriously hiked or carried a pack before. Starting from Mojave, Calif., hauling a pack she called the Monster because it was so huge and heavy, she had to perform a dead lift to stand, and then could barely make a mile an hour. Eventually she began to experience 'a kind of strange, abstract, retrospective fun,' meeting the few other hikers along the way, all male; jettisoning some of the weight from her pack and burning books she had read; and encountering all manner of creature and acts of nature from rock slides to snow. Her account forms a charming, intrepid trial by fire, as she emerges from the ordeal bruised but not beaten, changed, a lone survivor. Agent: Janet Silver, Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Agency." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Spectacular!" Elizabeth McCracken, author of The Giant's House
"Cheryl Strayed is one of the most exciting writers I've come across in a long time." Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters
"Stunning...An incredible journey, both inward and outward." Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
"A rich, riveting true story . . . During her grueling three-month journey, Strayed circled around black bears and rattlesnakes, fought extreme dehydration by drinking oily gray pond water, and hiked in boots made entirely of duct tape. Reading her matter-of-fact take on love and grief and the soul-saving quality of a Snapple lemonade, you can understand why Strayed has earned a cult following as the author of Dear Sugar, a popular advice column on therumpus.net. . . . With its vivid descriptions of beautiful but unforgiving terrain, Wild is a cinematic story, but Strayed’s book isn’t really about big, cathartic moments. The author never ‘finds herself’ or gets healed. When she reaches the trail’s end, she buys a cheap ice cream cone and continues down the road. . . . It’s hard to imagine anything more important than taking one step at a time. That’s endurance, and that’s what Strayed understands, almost 20 years later. As she writes, ‘There was only one [option], I knew. To keep walking.’ Our verdict: A." Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly
"Strayed’s journey was as transcendent as it was turbulent. She faced down hunger, thirst, injury, fatigue, boredom, loss, bad weather, and wild animals. Yet she also reached new levels of joy, accomplishment, courage, peace, and found extraordinary companionship." Marjorie Kehe, Christian Science Monitor
"Strayed writes a crisp scene; her sentences hum with energy. She can describe a trail-parched yearning for Snapple like no writer I know. She moves us briskly along the route, making discrete rest stops to parcel out her backstory. It becomes impossible not to root for her." Karen R. Long, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
About the Author
Cheryl Strayed is the author of three books: Wild, a memoir (Knopf, 2012), Tiny Beautiful Things (forthcoming from Vintage, July 2012), and Torch, a novel (Houghton Mifflin, 2006). Strayed has written the "Dear Sugar" column on TheRumpus.net since March 2010. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Allure, Self, the Missouri Review, Brain, Child, Creative Nonfiction, Water~Stone Review, the Sun and elsewhere. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, the filmmaker Brian Lindstrom, and their two children.
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