Books Reviews


Wild by Cheryl Strayed


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. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State — and she would do it alone.

Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.


I had read Torch and some essays by Strayed. I was looking forward to reading Wild.

In Wild, Strayed tells you how her life unravelled after her mother’s death. Her family scattered. She sabotaged her marriage to a man she loved. She started using heroin.

A loved parent’s loss is not uncommon. People deal with it all the time. However, she couldn’t accept the loss and went on a path of self-destruction. It is understandable—she was just 22.

She heard about the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). She decided to backpack through it in the hope of healing herself. Her preparation was at best haphazard. She often comes across as idiotic, impulsive, and self-absorbed.

However, Wild is not a how-to book about backpacking, hiking or dealing with parental loss. This is the story of Strayed dealing with her grief and facing her demons.

I liked her writing. It is stark, frank, and unpretentious.

At 22, anchorless and unsettled, wandering off into the wild to find relief—I think this is part of the book’s charm. In time, she is able to accept certain things and let go of others. The hike through the PCT seemed to have served her purpose.

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