Friday, 17 July 2015

Book travels: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Sometimes, when life gets stressful, I wonder how it would feel to fill a backpack with life's essentials and set out on a long distance trail.  The idea of making this kind of journey, step by step, focussing on nothing further than the path directly ahead seems appealing.

I'm pretty sure that my 'essentials' would require an enormous pack!  I imagine too that every piece of so-called 'emotional baggage' I've ever possessed would come along too.  I think that's the point. Step by step, as the landscape unfolds, life unfolds too and, with luck, you see things more clearly.

You can see then why I was drawn to this book.  It charts a great journey: a gruelling physical one complete with steep mountains, deserts, snow, rattle snakes and bears, but also an internal one. It's my favourite kind of literature journey: a quest for understanding.  The fact that it is told with such honesty and openness is what makes it work so well.  Cheryl reveals herself to us with absolute candour as she walks 'from lost to found'. That's a brave thing to do.

She walked 1100 miles of The Pacific Crest Trail in the USA, a long distance path which, in its entirety, stretches 2600 miles.  Her journey begins in the Mojave desert and ends at the Oregon-Washington Border on the 'Bridge of Gods', a portentous destination if ever there was one!

I was looking forward to reading 'Wild', it comes recommended by many, but still I was surprised at how much of a page-turner it is.  Walking is, by definition, slow paced but the book definitely isn't. What happened to Cheryl as she hauled her backpack, nicknamed 'Monster', over the mountain ranges of the trail mattered so much that I had to keep reading.

At the poignant heart of the story is the loss of her mother who was only 45 when she died.  I lost my sister two years ago.  She was the same age.  The candour with which Cheryl describes the gamut of conflicting emotions that 'are' grief was especially moving and also refreshing,  I felt grateful to her for putting them into words.  

This is the story of one plucky woman who writes in a beautifully engaging manner about a journey through the mountains and through her life.  I loved every step.      




  1. Saw the film, loved it.
    Read a free sample of the first couple of chapters. Loved it more.
    Need to read it in full! x

  2. You'll love it even more :-) x