Saturday, June 16, 2012

(86)Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild : From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Publication Date: March 20, 2012
Pages: 336

I just want it to be known that I have had this book on hold at the library long before Oprah decided that she was going to resurrect her book club.  Booksellers all over the country are grateful to the media mogul for choosing such a good book for Oprah's Book Club 2.0, because it is guaranteed to sell!

In Wild we meet Cheryl Strayed, a young woman who has had her world turned completely upside down with the death of her mother.  In the nearly five years since her mother lost the battle to Cancer she has been nearly wild with grief.   "Wild with grief" means everything from committing adultery to finding escape in a nasty Heroin habit, and everything in between.   In a moment of clarity she decides that she wants to hike the Pacific Coast Trail.  With no training, very little preparation and a backpack so large that she can barely lift it at first, she starts off on her 1,100 mile hike.  On the trip from Mojave, California, to Ashland, Oregon  Cheryl encounters many people along the way and as she hikes through the Wild she releases the grief and all of the other emotions that has held her back from moving past her mother's death.  The woman who arrives in Ashland, Oregon is not the same woman who started out in Mojave, California.

There has been a lot of industry buzz surrounding Wild from almost the first announcement of publication.  I wavered between wanting to read the book and just letting it pass by me.  I put a hold on the book so long ago that when I heard Oprah chose it for her club, I thought "Oh thank God, I put it on hold before she chose this book."   I am glad that I did decide to read, Wild.  Cheryl is so honest in her grief and her description of the pain she felt at the loss of her mother is so detailed and so raw it almost brings the reader to their knees.

What I enjoyed most about this book is that we get to see how the people she meets on the trail become part of  the transformation Cheryl makes from a woman paralyzed by grief into this strong, confident woman who is ready to take the next step into her future.  At first she is cautious and reserved with the people she encounters, but the constant encouragement and support is the kind of motivation she needs.  Even though they are virtually strangers it becomes a family like atmosphere at each stop along the trail.  And I think that is what Cheryl desperately needed after losing her mom and feeling abandoned by the rest of her family, people who are excited to see her and encourage her to keep going, no matter what.

Bottom line, Wild, is an absolutely fabulous read.  Cheryl tells her story with such insightful and introspective honesty that it is easy to get lost in her story.  She is such a strong woman and by the time she reaches Mount Hood I felt an amazing amount of admiration for the author.  What she accomplished is truly astounding.   This book is a must read for anyone who has suffered a loss of any kind. Cheryl's words are sure to give you strength and hope to carry on.


Sara Bell said...

I just added this one to my list last weekend! I'm heading to Windy City Books today to see what I can find. A few people have told me that they do carry a lot of newer books, just not as many as somewhere like Barnes & Noble.
We'll see.

Sara Bell said...

Update: I loved Windy City Books. I got a bunch of ARCs for free! I'll be posting about it on my blog in a few days. =]

Why I Read...

I remember the carefree summer days when I used to ride my bike to the public library to pick out new books. I would go almost daily to find books to read. I read to learn. I read to explore the world. I read to escape. I read because not reading is not an option.

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