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Wild: From Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed – A Book Review


As a rule, I don’t read memoirs.  To be honest, when I first picked up Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail I had no clue it was a memoir, I just knew that it was a book a lot of my book loving friends liked (and some who didn’t like it) and that it was being made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon.  I did a segment on my local CTV morning show on books being made into movies and I included Wild so I decided I should read it for myself and when I flipped it open to the first page I realized that like it or not, I was reading a memoir.

The good news is I liked it. A lot. I might even say I loved it.  Aside from being amazingly well written, Wild is just a compelling story.  When Cheryl was 22 her mother died of cancer and a few years later her marriage fell apart and ended in divorce.  Throw in some self destructive behaviour including drugs and cheating and cross it with a chance run in with a tour book on the Pacific Crest Trail at a local store and you have all the makings for the soul searching adventure that became Wild: From Lost To Found On The Pacific Crest Trail.

At 26 Cheryl Strayed found herself newly divorced and self admittedly devastated with her life and feeling lost, so she decided to embark on an 1100 mile hike through the PCT, from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to the border with Washington State. Alone.

Cheryl writes about her personal demons in a way that doesn’t make you feel sorry for her because she fully owns the fact that most of her decisions were bad, but it also makes you understand why a woman who absolutely no hiking experience would decided to embark on this sort of trip long.  But the more I read the more I wanted to hear about her adventures and misadventures and about her hiking boots and her poor, destroyed feet and all the people she met along the way.  And you wonder why you end up liking her when she makes such vapid and poor decisions, and writes about them with little remorse.  Sometimes I was surprised by her candidness about her generally selfish and self destructive behaviour,  but it also made her a bit more real to me.  No one is perfect, and we can often excuse our life mistakes but for the most part Cheryl owns hers.

I think I loved this book the most because I felt that I could relate to Cheryl.  Not that our lives are even remotely similar, and I’ve never done heroin nor have I ever cheated on my husband, but who wouldn’t want to just pack up and leave everything behind and see what you can learn about yourself when it’s just you and your wits for a few months?  Most of us could do with a bit more self-discovery in our lives.

I really, really loved this book and I’m looking forward to seeing the movie. I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

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