September 23, 2017

Wild by author Cheryl Strayed

Sometimes I am woefully late in coming across books and movies. One such case is Cheryl Strayed’s  2012 second book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. The death of her mother and the dissolution of her marriage impels her to find herself on a journey through nature. The memoir details Strayed’s 1,100 mile trek from the Mojave Desert of California, through Oregon, all the way to the Bridge of the Gods into Washington. Along the way, she encounters extreme heat, bitter cold, a bear, a snake, and fellow hikers both benign, eccentric and predatory.

She carries a tent, food, equipment and books in a backpack that almost physically defeats her. Boots that are too small make every painful step a test of her will. There are times when she literally has 2 cents in her pocket when she reaches camping areas. She intermittently joins both men and women on her journey, but always forges on alone. Strayed’s lyrical and engaging writing possesses more profundity than your average travel journal. We get to see her transform herself from a grieving, confused young woman to someone who walks through a baptism fire and comes out on the other end a stronger and more solid human being.

I have yet to see the 2014 film adaptation of Wild starring Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl and Laura Dern as her mother, but the film would have to be remarkable to surpass the book. For those of you who have seen the movie and read the book, please give me a comparison.

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