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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Oprah's Book Club 2.0) [Kindle Edition]

Cheryl Strayed
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)

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Kindle Edition, March 20 2012 --  
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Product Description

From Amazon

From Author Cheryl Strayed

Oprah and Cheryl StrayedOprah with Cheryl Strayed, author of Book Club 2.0's inaugural selection, Wild.

I wrote the last line of my first book, Torch, and then spent an hour crying while lying on a cool tile floor in a house on a hot Brazilian island. After I finished my second book, Wild, I walked alone for miles under a clear blue sky on an empty road in the Oregon Outback. I sat bundled in my coat on a cold patio at midnight staring up at the endless December stars after completing my third book, Tiny Beautiful Things. There are only a handful of other days in my life--my wedding, the births of my children--that I remember as vividly as those solitary days on which I finished my books. The settings and situations were different, but the feeling was the same: an overwhelming mix of joy and gratitude, humility and relief, pride and wonder. After much labor, I'd made this thing. A book. Though it wasn't technically that yet.

The real book came later--after more work, but this time it involved various others, including agents, publishers, editors, designers, and publicists, all of whose jobs are necessary but sometimes indecipherable to me. They're the ones who transformed the thousands of words I'd privately and carefully conjured into something that could be shared with other people. "I wrote this!" I exclaimed in amazement when I first held each actual, physical book in my hands. I wasn't amazed that it existed; I was amazed by what its existence meant: that it no longer belonged to me.

Two months before Wild was published I stood on a Mexican beach at sunset with my family assisting dozens of baby turtles on their stumbling journey across the sand, then watching as they disappeared into the sea. The junction between writer and author is a bit like that. In one role total vigilance is necessary; in the other, there's nothing to do but hope for the best. A book, like those newborn turtles, will ride whatever wave takes it.

It's deeply rewarding to me when I learn that something I wrote moved or inspired or entertained someone; and it's crushing to hear that my writing bored or annoyed or enraged another. But an author has to stand back from both the praise and the criticism once a book is out in the world. The story I chose to write in Wild for no other reason than I felt driven to belongs to those who read it, not me. And yet I'll never forget what it once was, long before I could even imagine how gloriously it would someday be swept away from me.

Review

“A rich, riveting true story . . . During her grueling three-month journey, Strayed circled around black bears and rattlesnakes, fought extreme dehydration by drinking oily gray pond water, and hiked in boots made entirely of duct tape.  Reading her matter-of-fact take on love and grief and the soul-saving quality of a Snapple lemonade, you can understand why Strayed has earned a cult following as the author of Dear Sugar, a popular advice column on therumpus.net. . . . With its vivid descriptions of beautiful but unforgiving terrain, Wild is a cinematic story, but Strayed’s book isn’t really about big, cathartic moments. The author never ‘finds herself’ or gets healed. When she reaches the trail’s end, she buys a cheap ice cream cone and continues down the road. . . . It’s hard to imagine anything more important than taking one step at a time. That’s endurance, and that’s what Strayed understands, almost 20 years later. As she writes, ‘There was only one [option], I knew. To keep walking.’ Our verdict: A.” —Melissa Maerz, Entertainment Weekly

“Strayed’s journey was as transcendent as it was turbulent. She faced down hunger, thirst, injury, fatigue, boredom, loss, bad weather, and wild animals. Yet she also reached new levels of joy, accomplishment, courage, peace, and found extraordinary companionship.” —Marjorie Kehe, Christian Science Monitor 
 
“It’s not very manly, the topic of weeping while reading. Yet for a book critic tears are an occupational hazard. Luckily, perhaps, books don’t make me cry very often. Turning pages, I’m practically Steve McQueen. Strayed’s memoir, Wild, however, pretty much obliterated me. I was reduced, during her book’s final third, to puddle-eyed cretinism. I like to read in coffee shops, and I began to receive concerned glances from matronly women, the kind of looks that said, ‘Oh, honey.’ To mention all this does Strayed a bit of a disservice, because there’s nothing cloying about Wild. It’s uplifting, but not in the way of many memoirs, where the uplift makes you feel that you’re committing mental suicide. This book is as loose and sexy and dark as an early Lucinda Williams song. It’s got a punk spirit and makes an earthy and American sound. . . . Wild recounts the months Strayed spent when she was 26, hiking alone on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. There were very frightening moments, but the author was not chewed on by bears, plucked dangling from the edge of a pit, buried by an avalanche or made witness to the rapture. No dingo ate anyone’s baby. Yet everything happened. The clarity of Ms. Strayed’s prose, and thus of her person, makes her story, in its quiet way, nearly as riveting an adventure narrative as Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild and Into Thin Air. . . . Her grief, early in this book, is as palpable as her confusion. Her portrait of her mother, who died of cancer at 45, is raw and bitter and reverent all at once. . . . Wild is thus the story of an unfolding. She got tougher, mentally as well as physically [and she] tells good, scary stories about nearly running out of water, encountering leering men and dangerous animals. . . The lack of ease in her life made her fierce and funny; she hammers home her hard-won sentences like a box of nails. The cumulative welling up I experienced during Wild was partly a response to that too infrequent sight: that of a writer finding her voice, and sustaining it, right in front of your eyes.” —Dwight Garner, The New York Times 
 
“One of the most original, heartbreaking and beautiful American memoirs in years. . . . The unlikely journey is awe-inspiring, but it's one of the least remarkable things about the book. Strayed, who was recently revealed as the anonymous author of the ‘Dear Sugar’ advice column of the literary website The Rumpus, writes with stunningly authentic emotional resonance—Wild is brutal and touching in equal measures, but there's nothing forced about it. She chronicles sorrow and loss with unflinching honesty, but without artifice or self-pity. There are no easy answers in life, she seems to be telling the reader. Maybe there are no answers at all. It's fitting, perhaps, that the writer chose to end her long pilgrimage at the Bridge of the Gods, a majestic structure that stretches a third of a mile across the Columbia, the largest river in the Pacific Northwest. We think of bridges as separating destinations, just as we think of long journeys as the price we have to pay to get from one place to another. Sometimes, though, the journey is the destination, and the bridge connects more than just dots on a map—it joins reality with the dream world, the living with the dead, the tame with the wild.” —Michael Schaub, NPR Books 
 
“Brilliant. . . pointedly honest . . . Part adventure narrative, part deeply personal reflection, Wild chronicles an adventure born of heartbreak. . . . While it is certain that the obvious dangers of the trail are real — the cliffs are high, the path narrow, the ice slick, and the animal life wild — the book’s greatest achievement lies in its exploration of the author’s emotional landscape. With flashbacks as organic and natural as memory itself, Strayed mines the bedrock of her past to reveal what rests beneath her compulsion to hike alone across more than one thousand primitive miles: her biological father’s abuse and abandonment, her mother’s diagnosis and death, and her family’s unraveling. Strayed emerges from her grief-stricken journey as a practitioner of a rare and vital vocation. She has become an intrepid cartographer of the human heart.” —Bruce Machart, Houston Chronicle 
 
“Strayed writes a crisp scene; her sentences hum with energy. She can describe a trail-parched yearning for Snapple like no writer I know. She moves us briskly along the route, making discrete rest stops to parcel out her backstory. It becomes impossible not to root for her.” —Karen R. Long, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“[A] vivid, touching and ultimately inspiring account of a life unraveling, and of the journey that put it back together. . . . The darkness is relieved by self-deprecating humor as [Strayed] chronicles her hiking expedition and the rebirth it helped to inspire. . . . Wild easily transcends the hiking genre, though it presents plenty of details about equipment ordeals and physical challenges. Anyone with some backpacking experience will find Strayed's chronicle especially amusing. Her boots prove too small. The trail destroys her feet. Then there is the possibility of real mortality: She repeatedly finds herself just barely avoiding rattlesnakes. Strayed is honest about the tedium of hiking but also alert to the self-discovery that can be stirred by solitude and self-reliance. . . . Pathos and humor are her main companions on the trail, although she writes vividly about the cast of other pilgrims she encounters. Finding out ‘what it was like to walk for miles,’ Strayed writes, was ‘a powerful and fundamental experience.’ And knowing that feeling has a way of taming the challenges thrown up by modern life.” —Michael J. Ybarra, The Wall Street Journal 
 
“Strayed’s journey is the focal point of Wild, in which she interweaves suspenseful accounts of her most harrowing crises with imagistic moments of reflection. Her profound grief over her mother’s death, her emotional abandonment by her siblings and stepfather, and her personal shortcomings and misadventures are all conveyed with a consistently grounded, quietly pained self-awareness. On the trail, she fends of everything from loneliness to black bears; we groan when her boots go tumbling off a cliff and we rejoice as she transforms from a terrified amateur hiker into the ‘Queen of the PCT.’ In a style that embodies her wanderlust, Strayed transports us with this gripping, ultimately uplifting tale.” —Catherine Straut, ELLE 
 
“Spectacular. Wild is at once a breathtaking adventure tale and a profound meditation on the nature of grief and survival. . . . . Strayed’s load is both literal and metaphorical—so heavy that she staggers beneath its weight. . . . Often when narratives are structured in parallel arcs, the two stories compete and one dominates. But in Wild, the two tales Strayed tells, of her difficult past and challenging present, are delivered in perfect balance. Not only am I not an adventurer myself, but I am not typically a reader of wilderness stories. Yet I was riveted step by precarious step through Strayed’s encounters with bears, rattlesnakes, mountain lion scat, ice, record snow and predatory men. She lost six toenails, suffered countless bruises and scabs, improvised bootees made of socks wrapped in duct tape, woke up one time covered in frogs, and met strangers who were extraordinarily kind to her. Perhaps her adventure is so gripping because Strayed relates its gritty, visceral details not out of a desire to milk its obviously dramatic circumstances, but out of a powerful, yet understated, imperative to understand its meaning. We come to feel how her actions and her internal struggles intertwine, and appreciate the lessons she finds embedded in the natural world. . . . Strayed is a clearheaded, scarred, human, powerful and enormously talented writer who is secure enough to confess she does not have all the answers. . . Wild isn’t a concept-generated book, that is, one of those great projects that began as a good, salable idea. Rather, it started out as an experience that was ...

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More Bookish Thoughts... July 4 2012
By Reader Writer Runner TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
When Cheryl Strayed decided to hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), she was floundering in her life and needed to throw herself wholeheartedly into a quest. In the solitude of nature, Strayed wanted to ponder her life, to grieve the death of both her mother and her marriage and perhaps even to gain some closure. This beautifully written and contemplative memoir deals with loss and grief but also depicts a primal fight with the world.

"Wild" tells awe-inspiring anecdotes about a monstrously heavy backpack (aptly nicknamed Monster), lost boots and surviving for 100 miles on 62 cents. It describes horrible unpreparedness and inexperience. It suspensefully highlights a constant search for enough food, water and energy to take one more step. Above all, Strayed writes with frank, raw emotion and bubbling grief. She neither minces words nor tries to place herself in the best possible light. But instead of judging Strayed, the reader sympathizes with her because of her appealing, refreshing honesty.

Ultimately, "Wild" explores the themes of both human weaknesses and untapped reserves of strength. Strayed had an amazing journey on so many levels and her intense, vivid descriptions and powerful narrative certainly strike a chord with readers.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wild - a study of courage. July 23 2012
By Tony Maxwell TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Cheryl Strayed's remarkable book, Wild, details her amazing courage and fortitude in her struggles to overcome her memories of a difficult childhood, the early death of her mother and a dangerous dalliance with hard drugs.
Driven by a need to prove herself to herself, she sets out on her own to walk the Pacific Crest Trail burdened my a monsterously heavy pack and a naive appreciation of the difficulties that lay ahead of her.
Anyone who has done any hiking and has paid the price of ill-fitting boots and blisters, will suffer along with this remarkable woman.

My only complaint about this book is that I found it impossible to put down.

ASIN:0307592731 Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail (Oprah's Book Club 2.0)]]
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Memoir! July 25 2012
By Louise Jolly TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Story Description:

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|March 20, 2012|Hardcover|ISBN: 978-0-307-59273-6

Oprah's Book Club 2.0 selection.

A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe - and built her back up again.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State - and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long distance hiker, and the trail was little more than "an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise." But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.

Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humour, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

My Review:

This was a phenomenal memoir! A page-turner that I read in a day and a half packed full of drama, suspense, emotion, and great fortitude. Cheryl Strayed showed unbelievable strength in pushing herself to the limit on this solo walk of eleven-hundred miles across the Pacific Crest Trail. Her ability to stare down the pain of her feet during her walk was unbelievable. That alone would have forced me to give up.

Wild is a memoir you won't soon forget nor will the character that Cheryl showed during this incredible solo journey. I'll most definitely be recommending this to everyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Love except the food wasn't as good in this book) Feb. 17 2015
Format:Paperback
So this is one of those cases where perhaps I should have read the back of the book before starting it. I was expecting a mountain adventure book (like The Will to Climb or Touching the Void) instead I got a self-discovery story (more along the lines of Eat, Pray, Love except the food wasn't as good in this book). So right off I was looking for something that doesn't exist. She doesn't get lost, she doesn't fall into a ravine, she doesn't even get raped (although she thinks she's going to be raped a number of times although that might be because she's overly interested in her own sex life).

I found this a very difficult book to enjoy. I've read Eat, Pray, Love and enjoyed it far more than Cheryl Strayed's story. The main reason being the character of Strayed herself in the book is really, really hard to like. The book opens with a very long lament about the loss of her mother to cancer at far too young of an age, then moves into her failed marriage and relationship and her inexperienced and idiotic choices to set off unprepared on the Pacific Crest Trail. The fact that nothing happened to her on the trail had more to do with sheer luck rather than any kind of skill or intelligence on her part. She's lucky she didn't end up putting search and rescue personnel in danger with her blunders and stupidity.

Her narrative of her time on the trail is punctuated with stories of her aching feet (she bought boots that were a size too small), her enormous backpack, and her fantasizing about almost every man she meets on the trail (she claims to have a higher than average sex drive for a woman ... or at least she has less control than most women and probably more STDs).

This is just my reaction to the book. Oprah loved it. They are making a film out of it starring Reece Witherspoon. So if you enjoy self discovery book, you may wish to give it a go. For me, I won't be reading any more of Strayed's work.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put it down.
She drew me in, I was with her every step of the way. This book makes me want to go on a long journey. What a brave soul she is and what a wonderful storyteller. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Lynn Adamson
5.0 out of 5 stars Gotta read this!
This is a must read - inspiring and thought provoking.
Published 14 days ago by Catherine D
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book. The movie did not capture the same ...
Great book. The movie did not capture the same magic! The book allowed the reader a more in depth view into Cheryl's thoughts and emotions. Read more
Published 21 days ago by KSavvyShopper
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly boring
I love hiking, camping and backpacking and have been to many of the places on the PCT that Cheryl hikes through so I thought I would be totally engaged in her story. Read more
Published 21 days ago by suekitty13
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!
If you liked the very beautifully filmed movie, you will adore the book. It gives you access to the mind of the main character going through the journey pictured with simplicity... Read more
Published 25 days ago by Veronique Moisan
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put it down!
Beautifully written and very inspiring. I found myself laughing, smiling and crying while reading this. I definitely recommend this book!
Published 25 days ago by tracy
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Such an amazing journey! This story almost made me want to go on a solo hike!
Published 1 month ago by Laura L
5.0 out of 5 stars spectacular
Reading this book about this incredible woman and her incredible journey was a journey unto itself. I simply loved this book
Published 1 month ago by E. Anne McCallum
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
This book is great. Well written and certainly worth a read. It goes fast as most good books do. And her journey is really well chronicled. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Kevin T Hansen
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing book.
An amazing book...I'm having a hard time putting it down...
Also I was happy it arrived so quick . Thank you.
Published 1 month ago by Lynette
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