Do you ever feel like a book is stalking you? Like it’s on every social media feed, nightstand, and bookshelf you pass? In November, Every where I turned, this cover was staring back at me.
My friend Melanie was the first to really talk to me about it, mentioning that she absolutely loved the book and that I should add it to my “to-read” files.
I participated in a Barnes and Noble event right before Black Friday, and after seeing the book staring back at me from the best sellers shelf, I decided to take the plunge. And, today, I’m sharing with you what I thought as part of my “Just Read” series.
Over Thanksgiving, I downloaded Wild to my Nook and started reading about Cheryl Strayed’s adventures at the Pacific Crest Trail.
If you’ve been reading NTTC for any period of time, you know I’m not really an outdoorsy girl. So, picking up this book, I was curious if I was even going to like it. Afterall, the author was about to do a solo trek across the Sierra Nevadas and more. Just the same, I had high hopes that the book would be reminiscent of my all-time favorite book Eat Pray Love… After all just like Liz, Cheryl was embarking on a pretty significant journey.
Relating to Cheryl
The beginning of the book had me nervous for Cheryl. While I recognize Cheryl is much more scrappy than I am, she was about as prepared as I would be for a 1000-mile hiking trip that started tomorrow. She hadn’t really prepared physically and got her advice from the guidebooks and her new friends at REI.
And, can we talk about her gear? She lugged an oversized and ridiculously heavy pack designed by the REI team that she named “monster.” My friend Cheryl and I both have a tendency to overpack, and oh-did-she-ever. Our similarities end there when it comes to luggage, as Cheryl powered through and carried her pack through grueling conditions (all the while it caused horrible callous/blisters on her hips.) I can’t even imagine!!! While I’ve struggled with my own heavy bag, if it caused me pain like that and/or was unable to carry it, I don’t know if I could have kept going.
Where I Drew Inspiration
If I had written the book, it may have been more aptly titled “Fear.” For the life of me, I can’t imagine hiking that type of distance alone and not feeling petrified. Being in the dark, potentially lost, amongst wild animals, I absolutely know I would have been completely afraid the whole time.
There were only 1-2 times in the entire book where Cheryl was afraid. Once because of an idiot who showed up on the trial, and the other when she spooked herself a little bit. Seriously impressive.
I can honestly say that when I was reading the book I found myself reflecting on this quite a bit. Example: “If Cheryl can hike the PCT, I can do this…”
Truthfully, my expectations for this book were too high. I expected a spiritual epiphany to take place. I expected Cheryl to find a purpose. I expected her to devise a plan for how she was going to get back on her feet. None of this happened.
Instead, Cheryl recounted all the pain of the past and finally forgave/accepted the tough moments in her life. I know that had to bring her growth, but then what?
For me, I really try not to spend a ton of time dwelling on the past. Reliving painful experiences doesn’t help me grow, instead coming up with strong plans for the future… that’s where I see value. While I absolutely felt that Cheryl emerged stronger, more accomplished, and happier on the other end of the PCT, I couldn’t help thinking… she has no vision for how she was going to “do it differently” on the other side.
Clearly, Cheryl Strayed was able to turn her life around, find a new job, build a family with the man of her dreams, and go on to write this best-selling novel… but I didn’t know that she would get there when the book ended. I was invested and wanted to see this happen.
In The End
After several days of living in the wilderness with Cheryl, I felt appreciative of the book, glad I had read it, and ready to see the movie.
With Reece taking the lead role and after hearing some Oscar buzz, I’m going to give the big screen adaptation a shot too. Mostly, I’m excited to see the beautiful views from the PCT that Cheryl saw along the way. I’m least excited to see her pained, blistered, swollen feet which I’m sure will also make an appearance.
Have you read Wild?