Selected to be read on Radio Four's Book of the Week.
'One of the best books I've read in the last five or ten years... Wild is angry, brave, sad, self-knowing, redemptive, raw, compelling, and brilliantly written, and I think it's destined to be loved by a lot of people, men and women, for a very long time.' --Nick Hornby
At twenty-six, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's rapid death from cancer, her family disbanded and her marriage crumbled. With nothing to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to walk eleven-hundred miles of the west coast of America - from the Mojave Desert, through California and Oregon, and into Washington state - and to do it alone. She had no experience of long-distance hiking and the journey was nothing more than a line on a map. But it held a promise - a promise of piecing together a life that lay in ruins at her feet.
Strayed's account captures the agonies - both mental and physical - of her incredible journey; how it maddened and terrified her, and how, ultimately, it healed her. Wild is a brutal memoir of survival, grief and redemption: a searing portrayal of life at its lowest ebb and at its highest tide.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
After her mother’s death sent her on a downward spiral, Cheryl Strayed left behind her failed marriage and her increasingly self-destructive existence to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, which traverses the United States from south to north. Strayed’s dazzling memoir of her life-changing adventures topped the New York Times bestsellers list and attracted Hollywood’s attention. (Reese Witherspoon was cast as the writer on-screen, with a screenplay by Nick Hornby.) A searingly honest portrait of loss, courage and renewal, Wild is the kind of book that inspires you to take risks and live life with more passion and gratitude.
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, a 2,663-mile wilderness route stretching from the Mexican border to the Canadian and traversing nine mountain ranges and three states. 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 from cancer; 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. Starting from Mojave, Calif., hauling a pack she called the Monster because it was so huge and heavy, she had to perform a dead lift to stand, and then could barely make a mile an hour. 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.