Into the Woods

wildWhile attending a local creative writing class, this memoir Wild was mentioned and praised. Embarrassed, I asked them to repeat the title and author, so I could put it on my list. “Oprah started up her bookclub again just because of this book!” one fellow writer informed me. I didn’t even know that Oprah had stopped her bookclub.

Cheryl Strayed’s memoir details her personal story of losing her mother to cancer. The rest of her family becomes emotionally distant. In addition, she begins to self-sabotage things in her life and divorces her husband. On a downward spiral involving strong drugs and messy relationships, Strayed decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, something she had no experience with, yet felt drawn to accomplish. And so starts her journey through the woods and her own demons.

I’m not an outdoorsy kind of person. Let’s just say that my idea of “camping” is staying in an RV. Stories steeped in the wilderness do not usually excite me. But this was something different. The wilderness was (to me) a character in the story. I wanted Strayed to persevere through this trail. I cheered her on as she walked thousands of miles alone as a twenty-six year old woman, fearful of the sounds outside her tent and mortified at her bruised feet with blackened toenails.

The story was clear and detailed, especially with the breathing and pacing Strayed had to use day by day when hiking for miles and not seeing another living soul. Even though she was writing the story as a narrator looking back on a past event, the memories seem vivid in every sentence. Her journey and her reflections on her life were harsh, bright, and beautiful!