Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Publisher: Knopf
Genre: Memoir
Format: Unabridged Audio
Challenge: 2012 Audio Book Challenge

I knew Oprah would get my vibes of how awesome this book is and pick it for her new book club choice. Yes, Oprah is back and she picked this stellar memoir as her first pick for her new Oprah Book Club 2.0.

Normally, I am not an Oprah book girl. Chalk it up to working in book retail for so long. She kind of wears on you. Yes, she did huge things for book business but she also held tight to that crazy control like a mad woman. And sometimes us folks on the frontlines were left hanging.

Anyway, this isn't a post about Oprah. It's a post about a magnificent book that is going to be getting a ton of well deserved attention. I am very happy about that. 

WIld by Cheryl Strayed first got quite a bit of attention in my neck of the woods, most notably, the bookstore I work at. She is a local gal, having been raised in Northern Minnesota. A lot of her story mentions her time growing up and living here in her early years. It had been a consistent seller since it's release last winter. I had this on my list for awhile and it took me until the buzz died down to finally listen to it on audio.

It was STELLAR. The narrator was exceptional and had the range of emotion, the sadness, the intensity, the humor that was covered in the highs and lows of Strayed's life.

The story starts off with Strayed's mother dying of cancer at a very early age. She is in her early 20s at the time and is floored that her beautiful, healthy living, natural, organic loving mother is dying of cancer. This event sets her on a downward spiral of bad decisions and hard living. Four years after her mother's death, she was in a place so far removed from her former self, that the only way to get back, was to do something drastic. Going through a divorce, estranged from her siblings, distant from her friends, Strayed makes the decision to hike the Pacific Coast Trail from the Mojave Desert to Washington State. Devouring her guide book, she plans intricately every step of the way; the supplies, the money, the time. And yes, she does it alone.

Never in a million years do I think I could ever do this and because of that I thought, "Holy Shit, girl, you are awesome!" But then again, if I were to go through what she did losing her mother so young, I just may have felt that intense need to squelch by grief by taking a wild pilgrimage.

I was so absorbed in her journey that when it came to an end, I was really sad. Though the book ends on a relatively light and happy note, I still felt very invested in her journey. She encounters so much a long the way, her bravery is outstanding. Bears, lost shoes, creepy dudes, bad weather, crappy food...the list goes on. But she also encounters wonderful folks on their own journeys, kind people who offer her supplies and food and a place to camp and new friendships.

I never expected anything bad to happen to her along the way and even when it gets rough, you really get the sense that she will carry through. Sprinkled in her time on the trail, she also shares stories from her childhood, her marriage, her youth, etc.

Told with such warmth, humor, smarts, and some badassery (yes, I made that word up), Strayed's journey is one to share with your best friend, your sister, your mother. Whether you are going through a loss or just need to get to the root of who you are, Wild will leave you with hope and inspiration. It may not lead to a three month hike alone in the woods, but it may give you courage to take your own kind of pilgrimage.

Rating: Recommend
HIGHLY. I can relate to the bad decisions made in your twenties. I can relate to the trying to find who you really are. I can relate to the feeling of nostalgia when you lose someone close to you. I invested so much of my emotion in Strayed's story, I have nothing but good things to say about it. If you are looking for a well told memoir that doesn't hold back, this is for you. 

Author's Website:
Cheryl Strayed

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Jenny said...

Yours if the first review I've read for this. When I first read the synopsis I wasn't interested because I thought a memoir about hiking? No thanks, LOL. But it really does sound great! I will keep this one in mind for sure.

Ryan said...

I may just have to read this because the author is from my neck of the woods, but I must say I'm intrigued by the whole idea as well.

Tales of Whimsy said...

Wow. It sounds exceptional. What a brave girl. I hope through it all she got to a better place over her mama. Great review sweetie.

Marie Cloutier said...

I think I would love this in audio! I tried reading hte print and enjoyed it but not enough to continue. I think the audio would be perfect for me!

Lisa said...

Stellar? Wow - I've been hearing great things about this book but that's a word that rarely gets used. And to think I passed on picking this up yesterday. Next time I'm at the bookstore I'm getting it - I don't care how many other books I already own!

Anonymous said...

I am glad that you have reviewed this. It is a book that I have on my list, just waiting for a few blogger reviews. I appreciate the detailed review and recommendation.

Vanessa said...

I'm going to pretend that you didn't tell me this is an Oprah pick.

I've been going back and forth with myself on whether to take the plunge and buy this book, but after reading your review, it sounds awesome! Thanks for posting.

PS. I just found your blog via Tales of Whimsy and I am a new follower.

Suzy said...

I loved this book and agree whole-heartedly with your review. I also recommend listening to this. The reader is outstanding and it's like you are with Cheryl and she is telling the story of her life to you. I felt like she was my new best friend :-). When it was over, I had to take a little break to absorb it all before starting on another book. My favorite book so far this year.