Wild is an autobiographical account of Cheryl Strayed’s 1,100 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. Following the death of her mother and the subsequent breakup of her marriage, Strayed finds herself lost. Though she knows little about what it would mean to do, she resolves to trek from California to Washington. The book covers the people she met along the trail, the difficulties she encounters, and the personal changes that result from such an arduous trip.
The other aspect of the story that resonated with me was the theme of forging personal growth by pushing body (and mind by association) to the extreme. In Born to Run, McDougall tells of an elite class of athletes – ultra-marathoners – who push their bodies to the extreme. Christopher McCandless’ story, as told by Jon Krakauer in Into The Wild, is one which is often compared to Strayed’s. Both individuals set out to conquer their journeys alone. Many previous reviews have pointed to the inspirational similarities of both tales.
To make a long story short, though I enjoyed reading the novel, I didn’t find its contents earth shattering. I thought the writing was fine, but nothing special. I enjoyed progressing through the trail and Strayed’s hike and thought her travels were an admirable way to take control of her life, and display an amazing personal fortitude. But, having previously read so many things that felt so similar, I just wasn’t blown away.
One thing did stick with me: the waves of nausea as she spoke of the toenails she lost one by one due to inappropriately sized boots. But, I’m not sure that was the intention of the author. Stomach of steel I do not have.
All in all, I think I’d give it three stars. Mind definitely not blown, five stars is off the table. Maybe had I read it before some of the aforementioned novels, I would have walked away with a different impression. But, I didn’t LOVE it, so take four stars out too. Yet, I didn’t DISLIKE it, which puts us right in the three star, shrug, yeah I liked it category.