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Not the Inspirational Read We Thought it Would Be
on October 18, 2014
When my partner and I first began reading this memoir, we were hoping for something more profound. Instead, we found a character who was on the verge of self-destruction, understandably, but who bumbles toward a maturity and self-awareness that ends up being trite and difficult to believe.
Stupidity and courage should never be seen as one and the same; Cheryl makes very few good decisions, is completely unprepared and while she points out her follies, she seems to revel in them, as though saying, "look at me! I did something ridiculous and got away with it and am now famous for it!" Repeatedly, people try to give her advice and she ignores it time and again. Strangers along the way are exceedingly generous with her, yet we do not see her at any point giving back; there is no sense of paying it forward. We found this to be baffling in a book that is meant to be about self-discovery and self-betterment. Given her past troubles with drugs, cancer in the family and a lost youth, she never mentions helping anyone to get past their troubles even once the book is complete.
The book is also oddly lacking in detail at certain points for both the hike and her ongoing relationships with important people in her life. She makes no effort to attain people's contact information along the trail, which you would expect her to have done given these were people who were in theory pivotal in her spiritual recovery.
Simply not a very modest, uplifting personality to follow. Memoirs are, of course, somewhat self-centred as they come from one particular voice. However, truly good memoirs elevate the goodness (or badness) of those affecting the protagonist and then humbly highlight a learning experience for the author. One good example would be Frank McCourt's "Angela's Ashes." Sadly, Cheryl does not inspire. Hopefully, Reese does a better job in the upcoming movie instead of maintaining the book's obliviously narcissistic tone.