Some women deal with a life crisis by splurging on something expensive
or updating their appearance. Cheryl Strayed, however, hikes the Pacific
Crest trail…alone...with no former backpacking experience. A memoir
about a woman’s grief and her mission to come to peace with a divorce
and the death of her mother, Wild is powerful and profoundly honest.
You will feel the suspense, the heart-break, and the overwhelming joy
that comes with trying something so bold and gutsy after going through a
time when just getting out of bed was a struggle. A Hudson Booksellers Best Book of 2012.
— Georgia, Roanoke
April 2012 Indie Next List
“The inspiring story of Strayed's solo journey on the Pacific Crest Trail snags you from the beginning and keeps you engaged the whole way through. It was a bold move considering that she had no backpacking experience prior to her trip, but in the years following her mother's death and the subsequent dissolution of her family, Strayed was no stranger to bold moves. The challenges, both external and internal, that she endures while on the trail are balanced with stories about her life leading up to her brave decision to hike alone for months in the rugged Western wilderness. This is a story of survival in every sense of the word, and one that will stick with you long after you finish reading.”
— Deborah Castorina, Waucoma Bookstore, Hood River, OR
Oprah's Book Club 2.0 selection.
A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.
Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.
About the Author
Cheryl Strayed is the author of Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar and the novel Torch. Her stories and essays have appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, The Rumpus, Self, The Missouri Review, The Sun, and The Best American Essays. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
“A rich, riveting true story . . . During her grueling three-month journey, Strayed circled around black bears and rattlesnakes, fought extreme dehydration by drinking oily gray pond water, and hiked in boots made entirely of duct tape. Reading her matter-of-fact take on love and grief and the soul-saving quality of a Snapple lemonade, you can understand why Strayed has earned a cult following as the author of Dear Sugar, a popular advice column on therumpus.net. . . . With its vivid descriptions of beautiful but unforgiving terrain, Wild is a cinematic story, but Strayed’s book isn’t really about big, cathartic moments. The author never ‘finds herself’ or gets healed. When she reaches the trail’s end, she buys a cheap ice cream cone and continues down the road. . . . It’s hard to imagine anything more important than taking one step at a time. That’s endurance, and that’s what Strayed understands, almost 20 years later. As she writes, ‘There was only one [option], I knew. To keep walking.’ Our verdict: A.” —Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly
“Strayed’s journey was as transcendent as it was turbulent. She faced down hunger, thirst, injury, fatigue, boredom, loss, bad weather, and wild animals. Yet she also reached new levels of joy, accomplishment, courage, peace, and found extraordinary companionship.” —Marjorie Kehe, Christian Science Monitor
“It’s not very manly, the topic of weeping while reading. Yet for a book critic tears are an occupational hazard. Luckily, perhaps, books don’t make me cry very often. Turning pages, I’m practically Steve McQueen. Strayed’s memoir, Wild, however, pretty much obliterated me. I was reduced, during her book’s final third, to puddle-eyed cretinism. I like to read in coffee shops, and I began to receive concerned glances from matronly women, the kind of looks that said, ‘Oh, honey.’ To mention all this does Strayed a bit of a disservice, because there’s nothing cloying about Wild. It’s uplifting, but not in the way of many memoirs, where the uplift makes you feel that you’re committing mental suicide. This book is as loose and sexy and dark as an early Lucinda Williams song. It’s got a punk spirit and makes an earthy and American sound. . . . Wild recounts the months Strayed spent when she was 26, hiking alone on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. There were very frightening moments, but the author was not chewed on by bears, plucked dangling from the edge of a pit, buried by an avalanche or made witness to the rapture. No dingo ate anyone’s baby. Yet everything happened. The clarity of Ms. Strayed’s prose, and thus of her person, makes her story, in its quiet way, nearly as riveting an adventure narrative as Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild and Into Thin Air. . . . Her grief, early in this book, is as palpable as her confusion. Her portrait of her mother, who died of cancer at 45, is raw and bitter and reverent all at once. . . . Wild is thus the story of an unfolding. She got tougher, mentally as well as physically [and she] tells good, scary stories about nearly running out of water, encountering leering men and dangerous animals. . . The lack of ease in her life made her fierce and funny; she hammers home her hard-won sentences like a box of nails. The cumulative welling up I experienced during Wild was partly a response to that too infrequent sight: that of a writer finding her voice, and sustaining it, right in front of your eyes.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times
“One of the most original, heartbreaking and beautiful American memoirs in years. . . . The unlikely journey is awe-inspiring, but it's one of the least remarkable things about the book. Strayed, who was recently revealed as the anonymous author of the ‘Dear Sugar’ advice column of the literary website The Rumpus, writes with stunningly authentic emotional resonance—Wild is brutal and touching in equal measures, but there's nothing forced about it. She chronicles sorrow and loss with unflinching honesty, but without artifice or self-pity. There are no easy answers in life, she seems to be telling the reader. Maybe there are no answers at all. It's fitting, perhaps, that the writer chose to end her long pilgrimage at the Bridge of the Gods, a majestic structure that stretches a third of a mile across the Columbia, the largest river in the Pacific Northwest. We think of bridges as separating destinations, just as we think of long journeys as the price we have to pay to get from one place to another. Sometimes, though, the journey is the destination, and the bridge connects more than just dots on a map—it joins reality with the dream world, the living with the dead, the tame with the wild.” —Michael Schaub, NPR Books
“Brilliant. . . pointedly honest . . . Part adventure narrative, part deeply personal reflection, Wild chronicles an adventure born of heartbreak. . . . While it is certain that the obvious dangers of the trail are real — the cliffs are high, the path narrow, the ice slick, and the animal life wild — the book’s greatest achievement lies in its exploration of the author’s emotional landscape. With flashbacks as organic and natural as memory itself, Strayed mines the bedrock of her past to reveal what rests beneath her compulsion to hike alone across more than one thousand primitive miles: her biological father’s abuse and abandonment, her mother’s diagnosis and death, and her family’s unraveling. Strayed emerges from her grief-stricken journey as a practitioner of a rare and vital vocation. She has become an intrepid cartographer of the human heart.” —Bruce Machart, Houston Chronicle
“Strayed writes a crisp scene; her sentences hum with energy. She can describe a trail-parched yearning for Snapple like no writer I know. She moves us briskly along the route, making discrete rest stops to parcel out her backstory. It becomes impossible not to root for her.” —Karen R. Long, The Cleveland Plain Dealer
“[A] vivid, touching and ultimately inspiring account of a life unraveling, and of the journey that put it back together. . . . The darkness is relieved by self-deprecating humor as [Strayed] chronicles her hiking expedition and the rebirth it helped to inspire. . . . Wild easily transcends the hiking genre, though it presents plenty of details about equipment ordeals and physical challenges. Anyone with some backpacking experience will find Strayed's chronicle especially amusing. Her boots prove too small. The trail destroys her feet. Then there is the possibility of real mortality: She repeatedly finds herself just barely avoiding rattlesnakes. Strayed is honest about the tedium of hiking but also alert to the self-discovery that can be stirred by solitude and self-reliance. . . . Pathos and humor are her main companions on the trail, although she writes vividly about the cast of other pilgrims she encounters. Finding out ‘what it was like to walk for miles,’ Strayed writes, was ‘a powerful and fundamental experience.’ And knowing that feeling has a way of taming the challenges thrown up by modern life.” —Michael J. Ybarra, The Wall Street Journal
“Strayed’s journey is the focal point of Wild, in which she interweaves suspenseful accounts of her most harrowing crises with imagistic moments of reflection. Her profound grief over her mother’s death, her emotional abandonment by her siblings and stepfather, and her personal shortcomings and misadventures are all conveyed with a consistently grounded, quietly pained self-awareness. On the trail, she fends of everything from loneliness to black bears; we groan when her boots go tumbling off a cliff and we rejoice as she transforms from a terrified amateur hiker into the ‘Queen of the PCT.’ In a style that embodies her wanderlust, Strayed transports us with this gripping, ultimately uplifting tale.” —Catherine Straut, ELLE
“Spectacular. Wild is at once a breathtaking adventure tale and a profound meditation on the nature of grief and survival. . . . . Strayed’s load is both literal and metaphorical—so heavy that she staggers beneath its weight. . . . Often when narratives are structured in parallel arcs, the two stories compete and one dominates. But in Wild, the two tales Strayed tells, of her difficult past and challenging present, are delivered in perfect balance. Not only am I not an adventurer myself, but I am not typically a reader of wilderness stories. Yet I was riveted step by precarious step through Strayed’s encounters with bears, rattlesnakes, mountain lion scat, ice, record snow and predatory men. She lost six toenails, suffered countless bruises and scabs, improvised bootees made of socks wrapped in duct tape, woke up one time covered in frogs, and met strangers who were extraordinarily kind to her. Perhaps her adventure is so gripping because Strayed relates its gritty, visceral details not out of a desire to milk its obviously dramatic circumstances, but out of a powerful, yet understated, imperative to understand its meaning. We come to feel how her actions and her internal struggles intertwine, and appreciate the lessons she finds embedded in the natural world. . . . Strayed is a clearheaded, scarred, human, powerful and enormously talented writer who is secure enough to confess she does not have all the answers. . . Wild isn’t a concept-generated book, that is, one of those great projects that began as a good, salable idea. Rather, it started out as an experience that was lived, digested and deeply understood. Only then was it fashioned into a book—one that is both a literary and human triumph.” —Dani Shapiro, The New York Times Book Review
“What should you do when you have truly lost your way? A. Go to rehab. B. Find God. C. Give up. D. Strap on an 80-pound backpack and hike 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail by yourself. Few of us who would even come up with D, much less do it. Yet that is exactly what Strayed did at age 26, though she had no serious experience backpacking or hiking. Within days of beginning her trek—already bruised, bloodied and broke—it occurred to her that this whimsical choice was the hardest thing she'd ever done. . . . What she does have is brute persistence, sheer will and moxie, and her belief that there is only one option: ‘To keep walking.’ . . . In her journey from the most hapless hiker on Earth to the Queen of the PCT, Strayed offers not just practical and spiritual wisdom, but a blast of sheer, ferocious moral inspiration.” —Marion Winik, Newsday
“When a book has this kind of velocity, when a narrative is enriched by the authority and raw power of a voice like Strayed’s, it barely needs a plot to pull the reader into its vortex. But this first memoir by the author of the well-received novel Torch does indeed have a tightly loaded trajectory. Wild is a poetically told tale of devastation and redemption that begins with the death of Strayed’s mother when Strayed was 22, and ends four years later, after she writes herself an unusual prescription in hopes of saving her own life. . . . Although Wild is the story of an exceptional young woman who takes exceptional measures to ease an exceptional amount of pain, the universality of Strayed’s emotions, paired with the searing intimacy of her prose, convince us that she’s more like than unlike us, and that she did something most of us would never do, but for reasons we can all understand. . . . And so we relate to her and root for her as she walks, through searing heat and trail-blurring snow, wearing boots that don’t fit, with inadequate supplies of money, food, water and experience, escaping the clutches of scary wildlife and scary men along the way. For three months. Alone. She keeps going even when her feet are shredded and her water runs out and an unseasonal blizzard blocks her way. Reading a travelogue of a long hike could be as thrilling as watching a faucet drip. But Strayed is a formidable talent, a woman in full control of her emotions, her soul, and her literary gift, and in Wild she’s parlayed her heartache and her blisters into an addictive, gorgeous book that not only entertains, but leaves us the better for having read it.” —Meredith Maran, The Boston Globe
“[Wild] is really two books in one. Initially it’s a story of grief and a chronicle of the loss of her mother, her marriage, even the loss of her last name. . . . And in this way, Wild is much more than a book about grief and loss. [But] it’s also about change and transformation, an adventure story full of hope, friendship, and second chances at life. From all appearances, this is a woman who has found her place in the world, both on the home front and in literary circles, where the buzz about her new memoir has steadily grown into a roar.” —Leslie Schwartz, Poets & Writers
“A long-distance hike through the wilds of the West is a perfect metaphor for someone seeking to draw a new line from past to future, and it's with such self-awareness that Strayed sets out—with woeful preparation—to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert to the California-Oregon border. The journey's purpose is to correct the trajectory of her life and lead her to a better version of herself. Flashbacks to her childhood in northern Minnesota, to the collapse of her marriage, and, most of all, to her mother's death and the subsequent dissolution of her family, give us a troubled and complex figure whose lostness is palpable. . . . It's a fearless story, told in honest prose that is wildly lyrical as often as it is physical.” —Scott Parker, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
“We readers love memoirs for the most selfish of reasons: As we encounter the writer's decisions, collisions, the chances taken or missed, some part of our brain is simultaneously revisiting the things in our own lives that got us this far. Strayed's Wild is one of the best examples of this phenomenon to come along since Poser by Clare Dederer last year and Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott's classic. . . . Anyone who has read a lot of this genre in recent years can't help but brace herself for the sordid details of a downward spiral. Strayed, however, takes to a different trail. The Pacific Crest Trail, to be precise. . . . Wild will appeal to readers who dream of making such a hike, and Strayed's descriptions of the landscape will not disappoint. They are as frank and original as the rest of the book . . . This isn't Cinderella in hiking boots, it's a woman coming out of heartbreak, darkness and bad decisions with a clear view of where she has been. She isn't inoculated against all future heartbreak, but she suspects she can make it through what comes next. Wild could slide neatly into predictability, but it doesn't. There are adventures and characters aplenty, from heartwarming to dangerous, but Strayed resists the temptation to overplay or sweeten such moments. Her pacing is impeccable as she captures her impressive journey. She deftly revisits the mix of bravado and introspection inside the head of a wounded young woman. Her honesty never flags.” —Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett, The Seattle Times
“Brave and beautiful.” —Antonia Crane, ZYZZYVA
“In Wild, Strayed recounts the road to redemption—a road buried in snow, crawling with rattlers, and patrolled by bears—with humor and irrefutably hard-won wisdom.” —Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair
“Wild seamlessly intercuts Strayed’s occasionally harrowing adventures on the PCT—from bear sightings to the hot bartender she picks up in a trailside town—with recollections of her childhood and family, as well as postcard panoramas of the deserts, forests, and snowfields she traverses. Wild is a memoir that’s light on epiphany, but heavy on the importance of keeping moving—even when it’s hard. Even when your toenails keep falling off. . . . beautifully told.” —Alison Hallett, Portland Mercury
“How long is the journey to happiness? For Strayed, it was 1,100 miles. . . . Layered between tales of the trail are painful yet beautiful remembrances of the experiences that led her there: the heart-wrenching days spent at her dying mother’s bedside; the sadness and guilt she carried about her subsequent unraveling, which led to a divorce; and the attempts she made to escape these emotions through drugs, alcohol and men. . . . Though it’s easy to get lost among the cacophony of voices competing for attention in today’s memoir market, Wild rises above the clatter. Strayed is a brilliant storyteller with an extraordinary gift not only for language but also for sharing the wisdom she earned with each and every step. Spectacular.” —Kim Schmidt, American Way
“After her mother died and her marriage fell apart, novelist Strayed impulsively decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, from the Mexican border to just below Canada, in a desperate attempt to regain her footing. With no hiking experience, too-small boots and a too-large backpack (she dubs it Monster), she soloed for three months, encountering rattlers and battling her terror of bears and mountain lions by singing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.’ Strayed persevered through punishing loneliness, coping by digging deeper into her own psyche. . . . With grace, wild humor and transcendent insights, she describes her dawning awareness that hiking was making the pain in her life ‘the tiniest bit less hard,’ and as she begins to heal, she also discovers just how strong she really is. Strayed’s language is so vivid, sharp and compelling that you feel the heat of the desert, the frigid ice of the High Sierra and the breathtaking power of one remarkable woman finding her way—and herself—one brave step at a time. Four stars.” —Caroline Leavitt, People
“[A] poignant, no-holds barred, kick-ass memoir that will grab you by the throat and shake you to your core. . . . Strayed seamlessly weaves events on the trail with memories, good and bad, that explain why this hike had to be. And so it goes, for 1,100 miles and three arduous months—through injuries, hunger, thirst, strangers met, kindnesses shown, ice and snow, some hilarity, much suffering, almost quitting and much learning. . . . this powerful and raw, deeply felt, often humorous, and beautifully written memoir turns hiking into an act of redemption and salvation.” —Shelf Awareness
“Strayed has enjoyed acclaim as an extraordinary essayist for 15 years. . . . Wild tells how, when she was 22 with her life in disarray, she impulsively decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone, from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon. The idea was that it might help her put things back together. Like the Adrienne Rich poem ‘Power’ that bolsters Strayed after the trail nearly breaks her on her first day out, Strayed has power in reserve. It used to take her younger self by surprise—like so many of her encounters and revelations along the trail. Strayed reclaimed herself with she claimed that power on the Pacific Crest Trail. Today, she owns it, and she knows how to use it. We’re feeling it now.” —Brian Juenemann, The Register-Guard
“Ardent. . . it is voice—fierce, billowing with energy, precise—that carries Wild. By turns both devastating and glorious, Strayed uses it to narrate her progress and setbacks on the trail and within herself, occasionally flashing back to fill in the events that brought her to this desperate traverse. . . . By laying bare a great unspoken truth of adulthood—that many things in life don’t turn out the way you want them to, and that you can and must live through them anyway—Wild feels real in ways that many books about ‘finding oneself’ do not. The hike, rewarding though it is, doesn’t heal Strayed. . . . Strayed waited close to 20 years to publish her story, and it shows. Though many of the things that happen to her are extreme—at one point she hikes in boots made entirely of duct tape—she never writes from a place of desperation in the kind of semi-edited purge state that has marred so many true stories in recent years. Such fine control over so many unfathomable, enormous experiences was no doubt hard-won. When she finally reaches her destination, she’s completed her hike, but her mother is still dead, her marriage is still over, her family and home still lost forever. She spends $1.80 of her last $2 on an ice cream cone. The ice cream is wonderful, but it’s not the answer to anything, and she knows it. . . . Strayed is someone you want to listen to as she walks on. What she offers up are many, many new questions far more valuable than any platitudes about self-discovery, and it’s in these that the heart of her story lies.” —Melanie Rehak, Slate
“Cheryl Strayed was a novice hiker when she decided to embark on a solo trek along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), a scenic footpath that zigzags over the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountains for 2,650 miles between Mexico and Canada. Her poetic memoir Wild opens with the impetus for her journey: the sudden death of her mother just 49 days after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Despondent an disoriented in the wake of her loss, Strayed self-destructs. . . . Not sure what she is in search of, she sets off for the PCT with a guidebook, a collection of poems and an ice ax she doesn’t yet know how to use. During the harrowing three-month journey that ensues, she starts to make sense of her loss . . . In this compelling chronicle, she does just that, meeting kindhearted fellow travelers along the way as well as two terrifying hunters, several rattlesnakes, a bull and, in the end, someone she can finally begin to admire: herself.” —Liz Welch, More
“Raw, heartbreaking, humorous, ‘Wild’ is an apt title in many ways—evoking not just the pristine rugged-ness of [Strayed’s] 1,100-mile hike from the Mojave Desert in California to the Columbia River on Oregon’s northern edge, but also the untamed emotional landscape that Strayed is desperately trying to escape. In flashbacks along the trail, she relives the jagged memories she is fighting to outrun: abuse, adultery, and the death of her mother—a loss that left her so grief-stricken she once broke down and ate her mother’s cremated remains. . . . If the emotional baggage isn’t enough, there is the actual bag Strayed struggles to carry: a ridiculously enormous backpack so overloaded with nonessentials she dubs it ‘Monster’ and can hoist it only by finding ways to get her legs underneath it. Such bursts of levity come just often enough to blunt Wild’s darkest moments. Wild succeeds in reminding us that there’s always something to be learned from anyone who, however lost, keeps putting one foot in front of the other.” —Brian Barker, Portland Monthly Magazine
“Strayed recounts her experience hiking the PCT after her mother’s death and her own subsequent divorce. . . . She takes readers with her on the trail, and the transformation she experiences on its course is significant: she goes from feeling out of her element with a too-big backpack and too-small boots to finding a sense of home in the wilderness and with the allies she meets along the way. Readers will appreciate her vivid descriptions of the natural wonders.” —Karen McCoy, Library Journal
“Shattered by the death of her mother and the breakup of her marriage in her mid-twenties, Strayed attempted to hike 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail alone as a way to piece herself back together after so much loss. . . . The portrait of her mother, a free spirit once married to an abusive man, is heartbreaking. As are her accounts of the extraordinary bonds that sprung up among hikers sharing provisions and offering help.” —Whole Living
“At 26, Cheryl Strayed realized she was lost. Divorced, still reeling from the sudden death of her mother, she made the radical decision to hike 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail—from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington state—by herself. Her account of that journey is one of the most thrilling memoirs in years. Why is Wild such a standout? For starters, there’s the tale’s sheer ballsiness: Strayed was an inexperienced hiker when she set out alone, unsure of how to read a compass. When she lost her boots, she wrapped duct tape around her feet and kept hiking. It’s fascinating to imagine Strayed taking on black bears and rattlesnakes and impassable snowfall (to say nothing of sexy, dark-haired guitar players and lecherous rednecks with knives). But more impressive is Strayed’s writing. Wild will undoubtedly be compared to Krakauer’s Into the Wild, but unlike its tragic cousin, Wild is not about an idealistic young person trying to escape the world. It’s about an idealistic young person learning to live within in. Reading Wild, you think: Here is a woman speaking in her own voice about trying to heal her soul—by getting her ass kicked in the woods. . . Clear, honest, and quietly riveting.” —Kimberly Cutter, Marie Claire
“After the untimely death of her beloved mother from cancer, Cheryl Strayed, 22 at the time, was left with an all-encompassing grief and a disintegrating marriage. Directionless and searching, an impromptu decision set her compass north. North from the Mojave Desert through California, north across Oregon, and north still through Washington state across the vast, beautiful, and unforgiving stretches of the Pacific Crest Trail. Having never gone backpacking before, Strayed embarked on an 1,100-mile, three-month solo hike that tested both her physical and mental endurance, and ultimately restored her sense of self. A deeply honest memoir about mother and daughter, solitude and courage, and regaining footing one step at a time.” —Antonina Jedrzejczak, Vogue
“Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild, proves she’s fearless: in life and in her writing. . . . This book isn’t just a travel memoir: it’s a no-holds-barred account of what inspired a novice hiker to undertake such a grueling journey in the first place. Using the chronological framework of the trek to examine her life up to that point (she was 26), Strayed explores the aftermath of her 45-year-old mother’s death from cancer four years earlier. Writing takes one ‘into all the dark places,’ Strayed says, describing the evolution of Wild as starting out as a personal essay for a planned collection that expanded into a memoir because she finally felt that she had to tell the whole story of the hike, including its backstory. Searing . . . powerful . . . mesmerizing.” —Claire Kirch, Publishers Weekly
“Echoing the ever popular search for wilderness salvation by Chris McCandless and other modern-day disciple[s] of Thoreau, Strayed tells the story of her emotional devastation after the death of her mother and the seeks she spent hiking the 1,100-mile Pacific Crest Trail. . . . Woefully unprepared (she fails to read about the trail, buys boots that fit, or pack practically), she relies on the kindess and assistance of those she meets along the way . . . Clinging to the books she lugs along—Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Adrienne Rich—Strayed labors along the demanding trail, documenting her bruises, blisters, and greater troubles. Hiker wannabes will likely be inspired. . . . This chronicle, perfect for book clubs, is certain to spark lively conversation.” —Colleen Mondor, Booklist
“In the summer of 1995, at age 26 and feeling at the end of her rope emotionally, Strayed resolved to hike solo the Pacific Crest Trail . . . In this detailed, in-the-moment re-enactment, she delineates the travails and triumphs of those three grueling months. Living in Minneapolis, on the verge of divorcing her husband, Strayed was still reeling from the sudden death four years before of her mother; the ensuing years formed an erratic, confused time ‘like a crackling Fourth of July sparkler.’ Hiking the trail helped decide what direction her life would take, even though she had never seriously hiked or carried a pack before. . . . Eventually she began to experience ‘a kind of strange, abstract, retrospective fun,’ meeting the few other hikers along the way, all male; jettisoning some of the weight from her pack and burning books she had read; and encountering all manner of creature and acts of nature, from rock slides to snow. Her account forms a charming, intrepid trial by fire, as she emerges from the ordeal bruised but not beaten, changed, a lone survivor.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Unsentimental memoir of the author’s solo hike from California to Washington along the Pacific Crest Trail. Following the death of her mother, Strayed’s life quickly disintegrated. . . . While waiting in line at an outdoors store, [she] read the back cover of a book about the Pacific Crest Trail. Initially, the idea of hiking the trail became a vague apparition, then a goal. Woefully underprepared for the wilderness, out of shape and carrying a ridiculously overweight pack, the author set out from the small California town of Mojave, toward a bridge (‘the Bridge of the Gods’) crossing the Columbia River at the Oregon-Washington border. Strayed’s writing admirably conveys the rigors and rewards of long-distance hiking. Along the way she suffered aches, pains, loneliness, blistered, bloody feet and persistent hunger. Yet the author also discovered a newfound sense of awe . . . stunned by how the trail both shattered and sheltered her. Most of the hikers she met along the way were helpful, and she also encountered instances of trail magic . . . A candid, inspiring narrative of the author’s brutal physical and psychological journey through a wilderness of despair to a renewed sense of self.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“No one can write like Cheryl Strayed. Wild is one of the most unflinching and emotionally honest books I've read in a long time. It is about forgiveness and grief, bravery and hope. It is unforgettable.” —Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle
“While reading Cheryl Strayed’s stunning book about her arduous solo journey along the Pacific Crest Trail, I kept asking myself—what would I do if I were stripped bare of everything—money, job, community, even family and love? Thoreau once said, ‘In wildness is the preservation of the world.’ For Strayed, it is clear that in wildness was the preservation of her soul. She reminds us, in her lyrical and courageous memoir Wild, of what it means to be fully alive, even in the face of catastrophe, physical and psychic hardship, and loss." —Mira Bartók, author of The Memory Palace
“Cheryl Strayed can sure tell a story. In Wild,she describes her journey from despair to transcendence with honesty, humor, and heart-cracking poignancy. This is a great book.” —Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia and Seeking Peace
“A courageous and transforming journey—spirit and body.” —Ursula Hegi, author of Stones from the River
“Arresting . . . So many heal-myself memoirs are available that initially I hesitated about [Wild]. Then I considered the source: Cheryl Strayed, the author of a lyric yet tough-minded first novel [called] Torch—a Great Lakes Book Award finalist . . . Wild [is] Strayed's account of her 1,100-mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail, from the Mojave Desert to Washington State. Shattered at 26 by her mother’s death, her family’s fragmenting, and the end of her marriage, Strayed upped and decided to do something way out of the realm of her experience; here she confronts snowstorms and rattlesnakes even as she confronts her personal pain. Wish I had her guts!” —Barbara Hoffert, LibraryJournal.com
“This is a big, brave, break-your-heart-and-put-it-back-together-again kind of book. Cheryl Strayed is a courageous, gritty, and deceptively elegant writer. She walked the PCT to find forgiveness, came back with generosity—and now she shares her reward with us. I snorted with laughter, I wept uncontrollably; I don’t even want to know the person who isn’t going to love Wild. This is a beautifully made, utterly realized book.” —Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted and Cowboys Are My Weakness “Spectacular!” —Elizabeth McCracken, author of The Giant’s House “Cheryl Strayed is one of the most exciting writers I’ve come across in a long time.” —Hope Edelman, author of Motherless Daughters “Smart, funny, and often sublime, Wild has something for everyone—a fight for survival in the wilderness, a bad girl’s quest for redemption—all in the hands of a brilliant and evocative writer.” —Chelsea Cain, author of Heartsick “Stunning . . . An incredible journey, both inward and outward.” —Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain