Plot Synopsis: At the age of twenty-two Cheryl Strayed has lost the things most important to her—her mother is dead, her family scattered, her marriage in shambles. Her life goes on a downward spiral, and four years later, with nothing left to lose, she decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. She has no prior experience in hiking such a trail, especially alone, but she does it anyway. Starting from the Mojave Desert, Strayed hikes through the PCT California and Oregon trails, all the way to Washington State, her destination—The Bridge of The Gods. Along the way she befriends many, begins healing, and accepting her life and the lessons the trail has taught her.
Overview: There was and still is a lot of hype surrounding this book, critics are giving it so much praise, that I feel a bit let down now that I’ve finished reading it. I thought there would be more introspection, more thoughts on her life and decisions, but throughout the book I felt like it was more about her literal journey on the PCT than her emotional/mental one. Of course, I understand because who has the energy to tackle one’s problems when you’re simply trying to survive. Nevertheless, the book left me wanting more, wanting her to have learned more while on the hike or to have illustrated it more obviously. If it wasn’t for the last few paragraphs of the book I would have felt like the story had no proper ending or final meaning, that is to say that I wanted her to bring in what she learned from the hike a bit more. However, maybe flash forwards to show what she learned from her hike would have removed me too much from the story. But like she writes, she didn’t have to know her future, just “understand [her hike’s] meaning without yet being able to say precisely what it was.”
I was never truly and utterly bored by Strayed or her writing, though sometimes things took me out of the story because of how different my life is from hers, and how I probably wouldn’t have been as lucky as she was on the trail. She encountered practically nothing but helpful people, and only had one true scare from a man who came on to her in the woods. I felt like my culture and upbringing took me out of the story, sometimes even making me lose interest for a bit.
Overall, I liked the book, though not much because at the end I wasn’t left feeling untouched or amazed. Usually after I read something I really love, I can’t move on from it quickly or get the characters out of my mind. Sentences from the book plague my mind; details come to life as I close my eyes, but not with Wild. With this book, I was able to move on immediately, but I don’t think it was a complete waste of time for me to read it.
What I liked: the memoir aspect, the honesty, the lovely similes & metaphors (extended and regular) throughout the book, vivid details
What I didn’t like: felt like she didn’t learn much on the trail/didn’t illustrate it much, didn’t feel taken in or enthralled by the book, her privilege & how it shows clearly through her writing (which I don’t think she realized she had as a white woman on the PCT), felt like I was searching for so whats?/universal truths, makes the same mistakes she tried to avoid before the hike while near the end of her hike, young Strayed is not a character I connected to or felt much for nor was I highly compelled by her
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Notes/Comments/P.S. : Though not amazing to me, I felt this book was well written. I was never truly and utterly bored by it, but sometimes Strayed’s privilege as a white woman on the trail removed me from the story as well as her attitude and thoughts revolving around sex (which she seemed to have a lot). There’s nothing wrong with such things, but it just felt wrong since such things were what led to her downward spiral (i.e. cheating on her husband by sleeping around), along with her mother’s death four years prior. Also, maybe I should warn you that there’s drug use in the book, and the shooting of an animal in detail, and sex.
Reviewed by: Ellie