I’ve read a lot of books lately but none that made me want to blog a review. There were books that were mildly entertaining and books that were a real struggle to get through. That’s until I picked up Wild by Cheryl Strayed. This book was thrust into my hands by a colleague with the command, “You must read this!” When the colleague is your boss that’s even more of an incentive to read something.
Then I heard that Wild has been made into a film starring Reese Witherspoon – out early next year. There’s nothing I love more than reading a book before seeing the movie!
So I started this on a Friday night and finished it on a Sunday. It was the kind of book you start and don’t want to stop reading until the very end. Wild tells the true story of a young woman’s remarkable trek along the Pacific Crest Trail – a very long distance hiking trail stretching from the Mexican border to the Canadian border and passing through the states of California, Oregon and Washington. It crosses through the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges through 25 national forests and 7 national parks. All in all it is 2,663 mi (4,286 km) long (thanks Wikipedia).
Cheryl decides to trek the trail from the Mojave Desert through California and into Washington – a journey of eleven hundred miles. She plans to walk alone for 100 days. What is even more remarkable (or foolhardy) is that she does it with very little trekking experience, no physical preparation, barely any money, a massively overweight backpack and shoes that she soon learns are the wrong size!
She walks to get through the pain of her mother’s death from cancer. She walks to come to terms with her recent divorce. She walks to rediscover what she wants from life and how to get it back on the right track (pun intended). Cheryl is brutally honest about the life she led before going on the trail. Her emotional journey is every inch as painful as the physical turmoil she goes through. From freezing cold temperatures and snow to incredible heat, you read this book and the vivid writing makes you feel every step along with Cheryl. You feel her hunger as she goes through periods of little food. You feel her triumph as, against the odds, she manages to not give up.
Along the way Cheryl discovers a strength she never knew she possessed and meets many colourful characters, either hiking the same path or in the detours she takes along the way.
Wild made me want to strap on my shoes and go out for a really big walk. But more than that it reminded me of what amazing life experiences you can have and how you can grow as a person when you’re brave enough take a risk and step outside your comfort zone.
It’s always great to read a book that inspires you in your own life.