I struggled with this one.
Wild by Cheryl Strayed was a book club selection that I just couldn’t get through in time for my meeting (I might have started it the night before, but that’s a minor detail…). It was still winter and nasty out when I settled in to read and my mood matched too closely to the author’s. She was fed up with life, her circumstances, and her season. I felt that too much this winter and couldn’t connect to the book as much as I would normally.
The story starts with death; the narrator, at twenty two, sits bedside as her mother dies of cancer. And when her mom is gone, everything in Cheryl’s life falls apart: her marriage, her college career, her emotions, her family. And when she has hit rock bottom a few years later (heroin being part of that journey), she decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail–over one thousand miles of it–by herself for months. It’s on the trail that she learns lessons the hard way, relying on herself to fix the mess she’s made, and, ultimately, healing her soul. This book isn’t pretty. It’s rough and real and sometimes hard to read. For most of the book, I didn’t like Cheryl. Her choices, her selfishness, her whiny attitude turned me off. But as someone who hasn’t had to walk her same path, I can’t say I wouldn’t be the exact same way she was, but it was still tough to read.
I didn’t really like her and it might have been a reflection of myself more than her, but most of her story rubbed me wrong. By the end though, my feelings had changed. As she started to heal, this confident and calm person emerged, I could almost feel the growing pains and new confidence emerging as I neared the end. It made the journey and the struggle beautiful.
I don’t know if you should read Wild by Cheryl Strayed. I loved the nature, hiking, and historical information woven into the story and the images made me antsy for an adventure. Cheryl is an ugly character made beautiful in the struggle and there is hope in that but I think it took too long to get there. At least for me.
What do you think? I know this is an insanely popular book and I’ve talked with multiple people who love it with a fierce passion. Have you read this one?