In Wild, Cheryl Strayed tells the stories of her mother’s sudden diagnosis, decline, and death from cancer and the shattering effects losing her mother had on Strayed’s life and marriage. Cheryl takes risks even before she reaches the Pacific Crest Trail, experimenting with infidelity and heroin. When a snowstorm sends her to REI in search of a shovel, she stumbles across a guidebook about the PCT and grows haunted by the “call of the wild.” Eventually, she plans (sort of), prepares (partially), and sets out on an epic adventure to lose (or find) herself in the wilderness as she hikes from the deserts of California to the forests of Oregon.
Reading Wild afforded me the opportunity to live vicariously through the ups and downs of Strayed’s (mis)adventures from the comfort and safety of the great indoors. While I faithfully avoid drugs and promiscuity, I too feel the call of the Pacific Crest Trail, and I hope to follow in her footsteps and beyond by hiking from Mexico to Canada sometime in the next decade. Strayed tells her tale well, flashing back and forth in time and weaving together stories of her life and her time on the Pacific Crest Trail. Tagging along on her adventure helped to fuel dreams of my own. Her vivid descriptions drew me in to the point that I shared in her triumph and despair, and I couldn’t wait to read what she might do next. Readers offended by passages about sex and/or drugs may wish to steer clear of this frank account of one woman’s journey from “Hapless Hiker” to “Queen of the PCT.”