Posted by: michelle @ books my kids read | September 12, 2012

not so wild for “wild”

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

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Wild is the memoir of Cheryl Strayed’s eleven-hundred mile journey across the Pacific Crest Trail. It is described as “a powerful, blazingly honest memoir…[of a] solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe – and built her back up again.”

When my husband first told me about this book and asked me to place a hold on it at our local library, I thought that it sounded like a backpacking version of Eat, Pray, Love. In theory it was – a young woman deals with the death of her mother and demise of her marriage by hiking from the Mojave Desert to Washington. What I found missing from this book however, was the sense of self-exploration that I got from EPL. The few times that the author tried to learn from her experiences, she sounded like a whiney, spoiled child. I find it comical to even write these words when I know that many viewed Elizabeth Gilbert the same way.

In EPL, I underlined passages and wrote in the margins (I even blogged about it here and here). The book resonated with me on a variety of levels. With Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, I felt almost no compassion for Cheryl Strayed other than acknowledging that her situation sucked. Perhaps it was her age at the time she made her hike, I’m not sure, but while she might have gained a ton of insight from the trek, it didn’t come out to me in these pages.

I fully applaud Cheryl Strayed for making the decision to hike the PCT, but I am shocked at how little she thought things through. She didn’t consider weather conditions. She didn’t learn how to pack appropriately before heading out. She didn’t manage to buy shoes that actually fit properly and to test them before making the trip. She didn’t put the appropriate fuel in her travel stove. More than anything else though, it didn’t feel like she learned much of anything from her journey until the absolute end. Her mother’s death was a tragedy that was placed on her shoulders, but her other issues – drug use, sleeping around, the demise of her marriage and an inability to connect with the people around her, those were decisions she made herself. I think she did gain some faith in herself and her abilities to forge ahead, but even towards the end of the book she was still needing to sleep around.

The hike itself was interesting. I am sure that I would never be able to do what she did. But this book reminded me that I don’t seem to like the books that Oprah picks. I needed more then her constant need for cheese burgers and Snapple Lemonade. I craved for more personal growth instead of the running battle between the trail and her toenails. Other people seem to have loved this book. I just wanted something more.


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