Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild:” A Woman’s 1,100 Mile Journey of Self-Discovery, Pain, Fear, and Reawakening

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When I first picked up Cheryl Strayed’s book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, I thought, “Oh great, another overly-emotional, sappy memoir about a woman trying to find herself.” Little did I know just how intriguing and compelling this book was going to be. I was whisked away from the start by the beautiful descriptions and intense plot.

Strayed’s book works to make the readers feel present with her in every moment she faces. This story is not just about a woman finding herself. It is more about the strength of the human spirit, the courage of a woman, the realization that you don’t have to know all the reasons for everything that happens to you in life; you can just, “let it be,” as Strayed’s last line of the book tells us.

Wild takes us on a journey with Strayed as she decides to traverse the Pacific Crest Trail alone after her divorce and her mother’s death. Her life seems empty and she needs something, some way to fill it back up again. She needs to do this hike alone to find answers. I found myself cheering throughout the whole book as Strayed slowly finds what she is looking for. And yes, even though Strayed did not write her book with an overly-sentimental, too emotionally-fraught tone, I cried a couple of times. It is such a deep and moving story that I could not help myself.

The power of Strayed’s story had me wanting to plan a hiking trip to discover my own courage and bravery, to test myself out, to be one with nature. I applaud her independence and strength of spirit. To do what she did, hiking alone for several months is something I wish I too could muster up the confidence and fearlessness to do. I kept asking myself, “What would I do in her shoes?” Strayed made me want to be involved in her journey so I could discover things about myself as well.

It is easy to see that Strayed is a fearless woman. Her writing is a testament to this. She writes in a way that is to-the-point, blunt, sarcastic at times, and brutally honest. She even goes so far as to admit to the world her own sins, such as giving herself too easily to men and cheating on her husband. It is this honesty that endears me to Cheryl Strayed and her story. Instead of shying away from the negative aspects of her character, she shared with the world her entire heart and self. That takes a lot of guts to do.

I believe this book is now being made into a movie version with Reese Witherspoon playing Cheryl Strayed. But don’t let that stop you from reading it! As we all know, movie adaptations of best-selling books always tend to leave out some of the best moments or change it up a bit too much.

It will move you, it will make you laugh, it will make you cry, it will inspire you, and it will make you cheer for a woman who was brave enough to take on a journey of self-discovery all alone.

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