There are a lot of great books out there – creative, thoughtful, thought-provoking pieces of literature that people can really connect with. But if you ask me (I'm aware that you didn't), the secret of discovering a truly great book – the one that becomes "yours" – is simply finding that book at the right time. You could have stumbled upon that book five years before, or maybe five years later, but you didn't. You found it now. And it just fit. And for me, at this exact stage in my life – I think I've found that story.
I've always had a goal of doing something big, something exciting, something ... adventurous. As long as I can remember I've felt a sort of connectedness to people like Chris McCandless and Jack Kerouac. I'll never forget watching Forrest Gump walk across the country on my television screen and vowing to do "something like that" one day. And after reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed, I know in my heart, that one day I will.
Wild is based on the author's true account of her experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail during the summer of 1995. The trail, known as the PCT, winds its way all the way up the western coast of the United States, from the Mexican border to Canada's. The complete trail is a whopping 2,663 miles, traversing the Laguna, Santa Rosa, San Jacinto, San Bernardino, San Gabriel, Liebre, Tehachapi, Sierra Nevada and Klamath mountain ranges in California, and the Cascade Range in California, Oregon and Washington. From scorching deserts to snow-covered mountain tops, breathtaking forests to crystal blue lakes, you experience it all on the PCT.
I connected with Wild for a variety of reasons. I, like Strayed at the time of her journey, am a twenty-something aged woman from the Midwest who has experienced many things in my young life that others don't go through until much later. Like the author's mother, my own healthy, non-smoking mom was blindsided with a lung cancer diagnosis at a fairly young age. Unlike Strayed, I didn't lose my mom to cancer, but I did lose my father in a motorcycle accident just over a year ago. The way she writes about her grief was strikingly familiar to me, almost eerie in the way that I swear to have had some of her same exact (and at times irrational) thoughts. Further similarities uniting us include a deep appreciation for nature, hiking, feminism, music and books.
I give this book:
The book follows Strayed on her journey, a spirit walk of sorts. In order to find herself, she first had to get lost, and where better to do that than on the Pacific Crest Trail?
To me, Wild has it all. A book about tragedy, drugs, lust, nature, humor, adventure – the human freakin' condition! You laugh as you picture Strayed on all fours trying to lift her unnecessarily heavy backpack before beginning her hike. You find faith in humanity as she talks about the eccentric and random friends she meets on the trail. Your heart aches as she thinks about her broken family, and your feet hurt even more as she describes how battered and sore they've become.
As one Goodreads reviewer put it every so perfectly, "This is a book that so many people will fall in love with ... but more than that, it's a book that will love you back."