Wild

wildby Cheryl Strayed
Nonfiction
4 of 5 stars

I first read this a year or two ago, and although I enjoyed parts of it, it wasn’t quite what I expected. I’m so glad I decided to re-read this! I was a much more judgmental person then, and I couldn’t appreciate what Strayed wrote.

When I first picked it up, I thought her book was literally her adventures on the PCT, possibly even a humorous account  of it all. There is a lot more navel-gazing than hiking, and the humor was more groan-worthy than laugh-out-loud funny. Now that I knew what to expect, I actually enjoyed this a thousand times more the second time around!

Previously, I was so caught up in how different I was from the author that I could barely restrain myself from rolling my eyes every other chapter. I’m just not the type of person to embark on a journey that huge without A) more money saved up and B) actual back-packing experience. When Strayed described all the difficulties she encountered (most of them self-induced) I grew impatient. Her journey was lost on me because I was too busy congratulating myself on being smarter than her. <–Not my best self!

My mother died when I was 23–I felt I should have more in common with Strayed, since my family came apart at the seams after that event, too. But where Strayed went off the rails for 4 years trying everything from heroin to hitch-hiking, I did almost nothing. I gave up attempting to keep my family together, and I had a husband who restrained me from ill-fated tattoo / job-quitting / alchohol abusing behaviors. The only thing stronger than my grief was my determination not to become someone who would disappoint my mother.

Wild is basically the complete opposite of how I emerged from my grief, and I can appreciate it now for another approach to the same thing.

Yes, I still rolled my eyes when she described her trail trials, but I was able to see that she was doing the same thing as she wrote about it. More importantly, I allowed myself to see the strength of this woman who found it much harder than I did to put her life back together after her mother’s death–largely because her life was much harder than mine from the start. Growth is life, and I’m glad that I’m getting better at recognizing everyone’s life experiences as valid, no matter how disimilar they are to my own. I was such a judgy reader!

I highly recommend this for anyone interested in couch travel and personal journeys!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Wild is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • Turn Right at Machu Picchu by Mark Adams – The humorous misadventure of one man trying to recreate the original journey that led to the discovery of the ancient ruins.
  • The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz – A similar fish out of water story about a chef who lost everything and moved to Paris for a fresh start–without knowing much French or how to fit in as a resident of the world’s most glamorous city. Delicious recipes included!
  • A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson – A controversial account of a middle-aged guy’s attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail. Personally, not really for me, but other people enjoy it, so read some reviews and decide for yourself!
  • The Unsavvy Traveler by Rosemary Caperton (editor) – A collection of short stories by various women about their hilarious memories and the things they learned while traveling. Highly recommend!
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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Katy Pool
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 15:55:06

    “The only thing stronger than my grief was my determination not to become someone who would disappoint my mother.” <—– I know this is just a book review but this line made me tear up a little bit Amanda. You are such an incredible friend, person, and writer, and I'm sure your mother would be amazed by the person you are. ***hugs forever***

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  2. erinkbay
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 19:38:45

    Amanda, I LOVE this review!!!!! I found it hilarious and tear-jerking at the same time, which is not an easy combo to achieve!!! Uh… point is LOVE YOU TO THE BRIM!!!!!! (Also, I was a much more judgy person than I am now… Though I am still quite judgy… 😉 )

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