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Wild by Cheryl Strayed | Book Review |

“The universe, I’d learned, was never, ever kidding. It would take whatever it wanted and it would never give it back.” ― Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

I happened to watch the movie based on this book before I got around to reading it. The role is essayed by Reese Witherspoon to perfection and made it a memorable movie for me.

Title: Wild

Genre: Non Fiction / Memoir

Publication: Knopf

Author: Cheryl Strayed


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Cheryl Strayed wrote this book to chronicle the miseries she encountered in her life, one after the other and how she undertook a 2600 miles Pacific Crest trail to unearth her demons. 26 year old Cheryl’s life was on the rocks as she was using heroin to keep sane, sleeping around with too many men even as it endangered her marriage. Her mother’s recent death to cancer made matters worse for her. In an attempt to unscrew her screwed up life, she decided to undertake this grueling trek. Without any physical preparation , she launches herself into a world of pain.

Her ordeal starts with the backpack itself as she crams it with everything she thinks is essential. When she tries to lift it, its a huge struggle as it weighs more than she can lift. During the initial days of the hike, her shoulders hurt with the weight and the skin of her back gets badly chafed. On the first night of camping, she faces a problem with the stove and then has to go without hot food till she can reach one of the rest stations to get it checked.

“Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren’t a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.” ― Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

She encounters some wild life and by some wit and mostly luck, she escapes unharmed. Tragedy strikes when she loses one of her shoe and has to literally duct tape her feet together. Her shoes had been troubling her since it turned out that she had bought the wrong size. She does manage to order new ones and its bliss when they are delivered and she can walk properly again.

She almost gives up when unprecedented snowfall hits a section of the trail. With some slight adjustments to her course she plows on, determined to finish what she started.

All through the trail, she keeps up a mental narrative of her life, her failures and rationalizes on them all. Its what keeps are sane enough to keep going on. She does meet some interesting people on this hike and realizes how much of a success she is actually.

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Lasting Impression on me:

Oh how I loved this one. The honesty with which the author has portrayed every mistake of hers and owned them is what impressed me most about it. On top of that the trek was challenging not just physically but mentally too. I know I can never do something like it.

The writing is nothing to write home about- its an actual account of the way things happened. The author goes back and forth in time, as she relives the events of the past. That can be a little confusing to read and TBH, I loved the movie more than the book.

My Rating:

My rating for the movie is 5/5 but for the book I have given it a 3.5/5 stars. I am not blown out by the writing though the narrative is epic. Pick it up if you are a die hard fan of reading memoirs.

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You can check out this review of Memoirs of a Geisha if you have a thing for memoirs


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14 thoughts on “Wild by Cheryl Strayed | Book Review |

  1. This sounds like an interesting read! Reading about other people, how they fought their demons, faced themselves and came to terms with their life …I find it so inspiring!
    Thanks for this review, Shalz! WIll look out for this one.

  2. Loved your review, but this doesn’t seem like a book that I might enjoy. Will go check out the movie now.


    1. Yeah the movie is just unbelievable; I watched it at a time in my life when I could so relate with her troubles. The book was a let down when compared to the movie and there is a huge controversy about this book too as it was written/published years after the actual tale took place. So people have questions about this gap, etc.

  3. I had found the Dear Sugar column quite by chance and thats how i came to know of Cheryl Strayed. Picked up the book when it was published and must say I was blown by the narrative. The trail itself felt incredible but also because of the entirely alien culture it introduced to me.

    I havent yet watched the movie though… sounds like I should catch it sometime 🙂

    1. You are right about the alien culture that this book introduces. I think thats what hooked me to the movie – would recommend the movie for a watch definitely as Reese Witherspoon just aces it 🙂

  4. she literally carried her “emotional” baggage to the trek :). Sounds like an excellent read. Gosh I have missed out on so many good books. I can only hope that I will catch up one day.

    1. Yeah thats surreal to read and watching it was oh so so much better. This one you can skip reading and just go for the movie Raji!

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