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Monday, December 10, 2012

Book Review: Wild

My latest book club read was a memoir that quickly topped the best seller list in 2012.  In "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," Cheryl Strayed recounts her several month trek through California and Oregon.  I've hiked a [very] small piece of the Appalachian Trail so I know that sort of hiking is tough work, especially if you're doing it entirely alone.  Not only does Strayed complete something few attempt (much less accomplish), she finds herself in the process.

I'm pretty sure Strayed and I would not have been friends in real life.  Although I love getting outdoorsy, there's a difference between enjoying nature and being granola.  I have no problem hiking and camping for days without access to a shower, but I can't relate to the hippy culture - just not me.  Strayed and I come from completely different backgrounds.  After her mother packed up her and her siblings to leave an abusive marriage, the family bounced around apartments on the brink of poverty until settling with a stable husband and moving to the middle of nowhere to live off the land without many modern conveniences.  None of that sounds bearable to me but was normal for her.  I'm from the South so getting married young is typical but married at 19 (like Strayed) is pushing it.  I also can't identify with her bender on heroin and sex, which she goes on after her mother dies of cancer, prompting her divorce.  All this craziness leads her to take a journey so she can piece her life back together.  I can't relate to any of the events that led her to that point, but I can imagine (somewhat) what it must feel like to be there.  I think I'd want to center myself, too.

Cheryl Strayed and I may not have been friends, but I respect what she did - not just hiking the PCT but having the courage to recognize when your life is not exactly where you want it to be and doing something about it.

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