Book Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

22955582Title: Wild
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Format: Paperback
Rating: 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US
Blurb: At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s rapid death from cancer, her family drifted apart and her marriage crumbled. With nothing left to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to walk over a thousand miles of the west coast of America and to do it alone. She had no experience of long-distance hiking and the journey was nothing more than a line of a map. But it held a promise: a promise of piecing together a life that lay shattered at her feet.


Review: You come across books like this very rarely – those that give you goose bumps just writing out the blurb. Wild has been on my radar for some time and I’ve had a copy sitting on my shelf for over a year. Although this isn’t a review of the film adaptation, I watched it last year and loved it so now after having a better understanding of the destinations and places featured in the book (I’m from London and have zero knowledge of the west coast of America, what it looks like or should look like) I needed to read the book to see where this remarkable story stemmed from.

“Maybe I was more alone than anyone in the whole wide world. Maybe that was okay.”

I’ve always admired those that travel alone. I’d love to travel a bit some day and the thought of going at it alone really appeals to me although I highly doubt I’d ever be able to do it so I was instantly fascinated and in awe of Cheryl’s decision and journey she made. Without the back story and her past as a factor, that makes for a pretty epic adventure. But her life as a whole is one I didn’t realise I’d become so completely engrossed and mesmerized by. I found myself thinking about this book multiple times a day – I literally couldn’t get it out of my head.

“The universe, I’d learned, was never, ever kidding. It would take whatever it wanted and it would never give it back.”

The depths in which Cheryl goes in this book are outstanding – from the distressing death of her mother to the sad breakdown of her marriage, her failures and mistakes and also her strengths – I couldn’t help but feel entirely connected to this book in every way. The emotions she felt during these times of her life oozes out the pages and straight into your soul – she makes you feel her pain, her sadness, her hopes, dreams and achievements all through the words on a page.

“I’d finally come to understand what it had been: a yearning for a way out, when actually what I had wanted to find was a way in.”

The detail of the PCT, the sights, smells and sensations was amazing – you could almost see yourself and feel yourself there in the woods, in the snow and in the blisteringly hot desert getting tired and hungry and thirsty. Even the tiny little details about monster (her backpack) and the equipment she used I didn’t find tedious at all because it all added to the experience of her journey and the experience of the reader. It’s hard to review a non-fiction book in the same way – you can’t really talk about the characters too much because they were real people but I honestly loved Cheryl – her faults and all. I loved hearing about the other people she met on her journey, too. The mad, diverse mix of people that are scattered all over the world.

“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.”

I cried for her and was worried for her at times but all in all, I really felt nothing more than admiration. The messages in this book will stay with me for a very long time. The real, raw emotions of life and the fact that everyone will feel lost at some time or another but there is always a way out and a way back. That your mistakes don’t define you and you can do that thing you never thought you could. That the universe is unpredictable and sometimes cruel and sometimes we’ll never know why something does or doesn’t happen but how there’s so much beauty that things have a way of working out if you just let them be. This was one of the hardest reviews I’ve ever wrote as nothing I’ve said here will do it justice.

It was my life– like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me.

How wild it was, to let it be.”

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10 thoughts on “Book Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

  1. Have had actual cravings for the film of this, for some reason I wanted to see the film before I read the book, I don’t know why, but there’s nowhere left in Ireland to rent movies now (isn’t that weird?!) so I must look the book up. Great, great review:)

      • Never heard of Blinkbox, must look it up! Our local supermarket has actually just started renting movies this week, am not sure if someone was paying attention to all my ‘really? There’s nowhere left to rent out dvds anywhere in this country?’ exclamations all over twitter and facebook!

  2. I just happened across the movie last week on HBO and couldn’t pass it up. I’m the kind of person who has no problem watching the movie first, reading the book second, or vice versa. I am DEFINITELY going to start reading this book asap, and your review motivated me even more now!

  3. “Wild” is such a well-written book. I sympathized with 22 year old Cheryl quite a bit when I first read it and understand her even more now. When I first picked the book up, my grandmother had just died from cancer. So, reading the book was a little bit like meeting someone who understood what I was going through on a personal level.

  4. Pingback: 7 books to curl up with on a rainy day | Jenny in Neverland

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