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Wild: Book summary and reviews of Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild

From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

by Cheryl Strayed

Wild by Cheryl Strayed X
Wild by Cheryl Strayed
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About this book

Book Summary

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.

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Book Awards

  • award image Indie Booksellers’ Choice Awards, 2013

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A candid, inspiring narrative of the author's brutal physical and psychological journey through a wilderness of despair to a renewed sense of self." - Kirkus Reviews

"Starred Review. Her account forms a charming, intrepid trial by fire, as she emerges from the ordeal bruised but not beaten, changed, a lone survivor." - Publishers Weekly

"This book is less about the PCT and more about Strayed's own personal journey, which makes the story's scope a bit unclear. However, fans of her novel will likely enjoy this new book." - Library Journal

This information about Wild was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Barbara H.

A Shared Journey
I sent Wild to a friend who has done the Pacific Crest Trail. Wanting to know what the trip must have been like for her, I had to read it myself. I would say it is one of the most engaging books I have read this year.
Cheryl Strayed was wild and went to the wilds to straighten out her life. The trip was arduous; sometimes even dangerous. She met other hikers along the way, immediately forming bonds with them. Other hikers and outsiders proved to be helpful to this hiking neophyte. She had to overcome lost boots, poorly fitting boots, lack of money and experience, and often lack of the necessary equipment. The reader takes every descriptive step with her, never forgetting the beauty she is surrounded by. When she stopped in Oregon and the book ended, I was both happy for her and sad for myself--the trip had ended.

Cynical Xennial

I can rewrite it in one long paragraph....
Clearly from the rating, this one did not provide an impressive or favorable reading experience for me. With a fairly high average rating, I am in the minority with that vote. At 315 pages, I feel this could have easily been condensed into 1-2 pages. The memoir basically could be summed up like this:

My mother died. I am mad at her for this. I hate her for this. I miss her. I love my mother. I have horrible coping skills, those skills primarily being heroin, alcohol, and gratuitous sex with strangers. This caused my divorce. I love my ex-husband. He was wonderful. My mother died. I hate her. I love her. My backpack is heavy. I was unprepared for this trip. My feet hurt. I frequently remove my entire blackened toenail by hand and flick them away. I stink. My mother died. I hate her. I love her. Pretty creek! More gratuitous sex. My ex-husband is so wonderful. My mother died. I am mad at her. I miss her. My backpack is heavy. My feet hurt. I stink. Ahh, mountains. Just flicked another toenail. My backpack is heavy. I was unprepared for this trip. My mother died. Ex-husband is wonderful. Heavy. Hurt. Stink. I ate my mother's cremated remains. Yes, you read that correctly. Crater Lake is so beautiful. Feet hurt. Was not prepared for this trip. Ex-husband is wonderful. Single women hiking have to watch out for bad men. My mother died. Hate and love her. Met more guys, have crushes on them all. Pack is heavy. Feet hurt. I stink. You meet weird people on the trails. I am divorced. My ex-husband is wonderful. Mt. Hood is so pretty. Feet hurt. Flicked another toenail off - only have six intact left! Yay, I made it to my planned end on the trail. This was wild.

Sigh, I simply do not understand the hype around this book. For me, it was insignificant and forgettable. The writing is painfully repetitive, simplistic (and not in the amazing, beautiful way) and at times it seems the writer tries to be poetic but ends up leaving the reader scratching their head trying to translate. Allow me to share some examples:

“He kissed me hard and I kissed him back harder, like it was the end of an era that had lasted all of my life.”

"In my perception, the world wasn't a graph or formula or an equation. It was a story."

"I was a pebble. I was a leaf. I was the jagged branch of a tree. I was nothing to them and they were everything to me."

"I walked through the spider webs, feeling them like magic on my face, pulling them out of my hair."


P.S. Eating a loved one's remains will not ensure that they will remain with you forever. On average, the consumed parts will remain with you for approximately 53 hours before being eliminated from the body via the last stop on the digestive track, but could be as quickly as 33 hours. I recommend a nice, covered container to keep a portion of your loved one's remains as a more effective way of ensuring they will remain with you forever.

--------------------------------------------------------

Favorite Quote: N/A.

First Sentence: The trees were tall, but I was taller, standing above them on a steep mountain slope in northern California.

Tally

WASTE OF TIME
Booorrrrriiiiiiiiinnngggg!!! I want my money back, I want my time back, and I want to burn every copy of this book!!!
It's the most boring anti-climactic thing i've ever read. Whiney, uneventful, lame, oh, and did I say BOOOOOOOORRRRRIIIIIIINNNNGGGGGGG!!!!!
If someone made a career writing books like this, i'm in the wrong business. My 5 yr old writes more interesting stories!!
But anyway, if you like wasting your time and money, buy and read this book!

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Author Information

Cheryl Strayed Author Biography

Photo: Joni Kabana

Cheryl Strayed's award-winning stories and essays have appeared in more than a dozen magazines, including the New York Times Magazine, Allure, Elle, and Nerve. Widely anthologized, her creative nonfiction has been selected twice for The Best American Essays, and Joyce Carol Oates singled her out for the opening piece in The Best New American Voices 2003. Raised in Minnesota, Strayed has worked as a political organizer for women's advocacy groups and was an outreach worker at a sexual violence center in Minneapolis. She holds an MFA from the Syracuse University Graduate Creative Writing Program. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Since 2010, Cheryl has also been responsible for The Rumpus (therumpus.net) "Dear Sugar" column.

Author Interview
Link to Cheryl Strayed's Website

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