Book Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wednesday, December 18, 2013
I love reading. Books are amazing. They are a form of escapism, yes, but they are also inspiration, joy, and... well. Goodness. I think in some ways I have used my appetite for reading to define parts of my personality, so it made sense for me to review some of what I read! Here we go...

Title: Wild
Author: Cheryl Strayed

Synopsis: "At twenty-six, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's rapid death from cancer, her family grew apart and her marriage soon crumbled. With seemingly nothing to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to walk eleven-hundred miles of the west coast of America - from the Mojave Desert, through California and Oregon, and into Washington State - and to do it alone. She had no experience of long-distance hiking and the journey was nothing more than a line on a map. But it held promise - a promise of piecing together a life that lay shattered at her feet.

Strayed's account captures the agonies - both physical and mental - of her incredible journey; how it maddened and terrified her, and how, ultimately, it healed her. Wild is a brutal memoir of survival, grief and redemption - a searing portrayal of life at its lowest ebb and at its highest tide."

My thoughts: I don't normally seek out books based on hiking. Really, I don't. I never really expected to read a book on hiking, and yet here I am.
Often I talk about how fantasy novels are so good at helping you to disappear into an alternate world, but clearly I had not read enough non-fiction books like this. When I picked up this book I needed a break from fantasy - just for a little while - and I disappeared into this entirely. Strayed is a wonderful writer - she is honest without being too blunt, describes things with such beauty that it's like you're there with her, and she writes in such a way that I felt welcomed into her world, and interested in everything that happened to her on her journey.

As you can probably tell from the synopsis, the book follows Srayed's journey along the Pacific Crest Trail, but it does more than that. Strayed jumps back and forth between her experiences on the trail and earlier experiences detailing the death of her mother, estrangement of her family, and the breakdown of her marriage. Some might find the very simple way that she writes about these things as perhaps cold or aloof, but I found it refreshing. Strayed has clearly had a lot of time to think and feel over everything that has happened, and the level of emotion and clarity she brings to her writing is gentle and touching.

Reading this not only renewed my love of reading different genres (even if I will be reading plenty of fantasy in the next month or so [and enjoying it, don't worry]), but introduced me to a whole new fascination with non-fiction books. I have since started looking at some of the non-fiction books on my shelves with new interest, and I am hoping to get my hands on Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things at some point so I can dive back into her welcoming writing.

The only issue I had with this book was I found the ending to be a bit sudden, and I think I would have enjoyed a little more about her life after hiking the PCT.

You would like this book if: You feel like something a bit different - something to get you out of that rut; you like books about hiking and life.

Rating:  8/10

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  1. How fascinating! The subject matter interested me, but it's your description of her writing that engages me the most. Good writers make all the difference, regardless of the subject. So much to read!

    1. Ah! I'm glad that my appreciation for her writing came across well. Sometimes I wonder if my book reviews just sound like a load of rambling XD
      Always so many things to read :D


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