Sunday, June 16, 2013

50/50 Challenge: "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed

"Wild" is one of the most intriguing books I've read in awhile. Reading someone's true story always peaks my interest a little more because typically it's about someone who has beaten adversity to come out a better person on the other side.

Cheryl Strayed is an ordinary person who set out to do an extraordinary thing. She decided to travel, no hike, for 1,100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail. It is the trail that begins near the border of Mexico and goes clear up to near Canada. She didn't trek this whole way, but she went plenty far.

Her journey began after she literally watched her mother die at a young age of cancer. This happens in the first chapter and without even realizing it, I had tears streaming down my face. The devotion and desperation she talks of makes you want to hug your loved ones a little tighter. It makes you want to remember the importance of 'I love yous' and appreciation and affection that we give to others.

Her childhood wasn't a normal one (whose is?) but she grew up on what could be called a farm, but was even less so without running water. Her abusive father cut out on their family when Cheryl was very young, but she adored her mother. And her mother adored her.

After the death of her mother, her spirit broke. Prior to that Cheryl had married her best friend and just early into her 20s she did not know how to adjust to any of it. She went on a spree of drugs and adultery and ultimately a divorce (although it is clear with her writing how much admiration she has for her ex). To find her way back to herself, she decides she needs to hike this treacherous trail alone.

She researches the gear to get, saves up the money, plans her resupply boxes and different paths along the way. Her journey, the physical and mental, is described in such amazing detail that at times I could envision the trail she was on, the feelings she felt. How an amateur hiker set out and stayed committed to this endeavor is something more than inspiring. It's brave and stupid and fantastic.

I read this book in about a day and a half. It doesn't make me want to follow in her footsteps, at least not literally, but the courage and strength and willpower she depicted, it would be silly of me not to want the same.

Book #14: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

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