Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: Wild - I'm Wild About Wild! (not a dog book, exactly)

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed (Alfred A. Knopf, 315 pages, 2012, $26)

I had seen this book with the one hiking boot on the cover and passed it by even though it was a best seller but suddenly I became curious when I saw the cover again – why ONE hiking boot? I found the answer in the prologue and realized I simply had to read the rest of the book.

If you are a hiker (female or male), if you live in Minnesota or Oregon or California, if you have ever dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), if you are a mother, if you have a mother or if you had a mother, if, . . .  if. . . . you simply must read Wild, the story of a 25-year-old woman trying to find her way in the world after her mother’s sudden death from cancer - four years previously.

Wild is a love story about Strayed and her mother as well as a tale about the anger she still harbored that her mother died so suddenly, so young. Strayed’s marriage is crumbling and she is also unable to keep her siblings together, as her mother once managed to do so graciously.

So, what does Strayed do? She decides to hike the PCT, alone, without ever even having gone on a day hike.

An amazingly hilarious read, yet I remain astonished that Strayed would undertake such a journey, 1100 miles, alone, and so ill-prepared (she admitted it with all the funny and tragic details).  She had never been backpacking before and packed so full-to-overflowing that she could barely lift her backpack much less walk with it.

Nevertheless, she took along James Joyce’s Dubliners and persevered through hiking boots that were too small and the consequent blisters and searing heat and blisters and snow and blisters and calluses and snakes and bears and strangers who became friends and never having enough money at the resupply stops. In other words, this is a true tale about a young woman growing up and I loved it.

Wild will be made into a movie and I can’t wait! (Reese Witherspoon)

Wild is an entertaining, sometimes hilarious, always uplifting read. So good, that I bought another of Strayed's titles!

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