Wild: A Journey from Lost to Found is Cheryl Strayed’s second book, published in 2012. It has since been translated into thirty languages and a film adaptation is in post-production*, starring Reese Witherspoon.
The book is Strayed’s memoir of her 1,100 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to the border with Washington State. The book contains flashbacks to her prior life including her mother’s death, a period of drug abuse and her divorce from her husband, all leading to Strayed undertaking her mountain-climbing journey.
Seeking self-discovery and time to overcome her grief, Strayed set out alone at the age of 26 to begin the hike, despite having no prior backpacking experience.
I spotted this book in a Waterstones just over a year ago, and missing the Pacific Northwest (where I lived and worked for a year) I bought the book. I was pretty sceptical about this ‘journey of self-discovery’ business at the start, however Strayed tells her story perfectly. She gives enough information that readers understand why she set out alone to hike the PCT and explains how she slowly began to come to terms with her divorce and her grief over her mother’s death. The descriptions of the scenery she comes across (deserts, mountains, lakes, deep forests…it’s all in there!), the difficulties she encounters, and the people she meets along the way are perfect and you feel like Strayed has packed you into her ‘Monster’ backpack and taken you along with her. If you’ve ever dreamed of visiting the beautiful Pacific Northwest, this book will persuade you to book the plane ticket! Her description of seeing Crater Lake for the first time is exactly how I felt – very accurate.
The book jumps back and forth between Strayed’s past and her hike, and while I personally enjoyed the stories from her hiking more, Strayed strikes the balance between the two effectively. Over a year after I finished the book, I still think about it and am inspired by her journey and her bravery in undertaking such a challenge with no prior experience, and on her own.
I am really looking forward to the film release and I hope it does the book justice. Reese Witherspoon is one of my favourite actresses and I think she will make a great Strayed, and the majority of the film was shot in Oregon so I’m looking forward to lusting after the scenery too!
I would highly recommend reading this book if you love a bit of adventure, and want some inspiration to be brave and leap into the wild!
*Edit: The trailer for the film has just been released (perfect timing!):