If I’m being honest, I initially chose Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found On the Pacific Crest Trail because it has also been adapted into a movie. I had to choose a book for my English class and I wanted something I could watch for an easy hundred. I remember reading dozens of reviews on the book before I picked it up at my local library, and I remember the look on the librarian’s face when I told her I was choosing it to read. Her face had lit up when she heard the author, her smile growing as she gushed about what a wonderful book it is. As I left the library with my book in hand, I began to wonder what Cheryl Strayed had to offer. I went home that day, sat down and opened my book and read. And read. And read. I hung onto every word and every detail and vowed I wouldn’t watch the movie until I had finished reading every last page.
The memoir is set in the mid-1990’s, and follows Strayed’s decision to hike 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail (alone!) in hope of finding herself after coping with the death of her mother. Her struggle with family, marriage, and mental health are portrayed beautifully and makes the audience reflect on what we take for granted. Seeing her veer around the obstacles of life and the trail inspires you to fight your own battles and see life in a different light. Her vivid descriptions of events like dealing with her mother’s diagnosis of cancer, her heroin addiction, her accidental pregnancy from an extramarital affair, and her abortion are just some things that show her to be the flawed person we all are and remind us that we are human. We are allowed to make mistakes, and we alone can choose how our mistakes can affect us. Instead of giving in to the hardships in life, Cheryl Strayed persevered and came out on top.
Wild is a story of solitude and determination. It’s about reminding ourselves to remain grounded, to take a stand, and to just live. This story reminds me that our struggles in life are temporary, and that we have the power of turning things around. Along with feeling sympathy for the author, I aspire to grow as a person like her. Thinking back to how the librarian reacted to the memoir, I now understand her excitement. The book I left with from the library that day, not knowing what it held, is the same book I will hold near to my heart and never forget.