This month Jay reviews Wild by Cheryl Strayed.
I started reading “Wild” in June of this year. I was looking for other books in the library when I saw it and picked it up on a whim. I’m not one to read travelogue books – I have read some Bill Bryson and “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakenauer and found this bore more of a resemblance to these.
It’s a true story, set in 1995. Cheryl, having recently lost her mother to cancer and newly divorced, decides on pretty much a whim to walk the Pacific Crest Trail. She is woefully ill-prepared, with her huge rucksack “The Monster” and her too-small boots. If you are looking for a guidebook to walking from the Mojave desert to Washington state, you’ve picked up the wrong book. If you want to follow the tale of a young woman’s growth as she sheds layers of hurt along with her toenails (not for the squeamish!) then this could be the book for you. Warm, funny and heartbreaking but uplifting at the same time, this was a book I needed to read in my depression.
I don’t often make notes of quotes from books but my depression journal is full of wisdom like this from Cheryl and “Wild” –
“It had to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles for no other reason than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way.”
“’And you weren’t afraid, right? Isn’t that what you told yourself?’ ‘It is what I told myself’, I said. ‘Except every once in a while,’ I added, ‘when I was.’”
“Where was my mother? I wondered. I’d carried her so long, staggering beneath her weight. On the other side of the river, I let myself think. And something inside of me released.”
Look out for her other book “Tiny Beautiful Things – Advice on Love and Life From Someone Who’s Been There”, based on her “Dear Sugar” advice columns on The Rumpus website.