Sunday, March 6, 2016

Wild by Cheryl Strayed Review

Title: Wild: From Lost and Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Nonfiction, memoir
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

I borrowed this book from my local library and reviewed it.

I'll start this review by being honest: Until very recently, nonfiction was a genre that didn't appeal to me in the slightest. As a woman who has grown up on a steady diet of fantasy and adventure novels, books about the 'real world' have never appealed to me. But as I've grown older, my longing for stories, both real and imagined, has grown so much that I've wanted to expand my literary horizons, which led me to Wild: From Lost and Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, and yes, I'll admit that my interest was piqued because of the movie, directed by and starring Reese Witherspoon.

But, as usual, my I'm getting ahead of myself here. After the too-early death of her mother, Cheryl, lost, bereft, and grieving, makes an impulsive decision, in the midst of her entire life falling apart, mostly by her own hand, to hike the legendary Pacific Crest Trail, which goes from Washington all the way to Mexico, in an effort to come back to herself.

I have mixed feelings about this memoir, to be honest. I loved it, but there are also some parts that confused me. I really liked Strayed's writing: it was honest, refreshing, and I felt an almost immediate kinship to her--she felt like a friend, if that makes any sense, in that she was also a writer and seemed to see the world through the same eyes as I, the worldview of a writer. (If a writer sounds the slightest bit dishonest or untrue to me in nonfiction, I cannot and will not finish it. I just can't do it.)

Her writing, describing her emotional agony and the beautiful, unforgiving terrain of the trail, really sold the book for me: I laughed and cried in turns throughout the entire book, and I felt as though I was walking in Strayed's footsteps, right behind her as she traveled through the harsh and naked landscapes. That means I also was witnessing, in my head, her lowest and most terrifying moments: her mother's death, come far too early, the shattering of her marriage as a result of her pain and grief, and her seeming salvation on the trail.

I enjoyed the book, a lot. It was a true story of grief, longing, and inspiration, also of self-loathing, loss, and the journeys we take in life, in every sense of the word. It also made me realize just how much mankind is separated from nature, and frankly, it saddens me. Wild especially made me want to go and explore the natural world, and access a different sphere of myself, if that makes any sense. But there were some parts of the story that confused me, as honest as the author was. Why had she spiraled into heroin addiction, as well as sex addiction, resulting in her divorce? It just seemed to be difficult to believe for me. Some parts of it in general just didn't make sense to me. Why, also, had the author walked on foot, and in some places hitchhiked? Maybe I'm being too judgmental, but that's the way I felt.

Nonetheless, I'm happy that I chose Wild as one of my first serious ventures into nonfiction. I'm so happy that I read it--and truthfully, it's only whetted my appetite for more of this genre. If you guys have any suggestions, please let me know! The bottom line: A truly inspiring and courageous memoir, Wild: From Lost and Found on the Pacific Crest Trail: is one of the best memoirs I've ever read--highly recommended to all! Next on deck: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab!

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