August 22, 2013
did you like Eat, Pray, Love? did you hate it? did you, like me, love the book, hate the movie, and then realize that everything you hated about the movie was kinda in the book too?
regardless of how you felt about EPL, you will like Wild. it is the book EPL should have been. very similar "Woman in Crisis Abandons Life to go on a Physical/Spiritual/Mental Quest" story, but this crisis is a little more genuine (poverty, abusive/absent father, mother dies early from cancer) and the quest is a little more respectable (hiking the punishing Pacific Crest Trail solo), not that the two ladies' experiences should even be compared, that's kind of a shitty thing to do. oh well.
I've never stepped foot on the PCT, but I have hiked parts of the Appalachian Trail, its East Coast counterpart, so I was already a little familiar with the culture- trail registers, trail names, re-stocking at small towns along the way, etc. I was a little wary of an entire memoir about hiking solo, but Strayed did a great job of weaving the stories from her broken past into the trail narrative. and not only that, the trail writing was really good. vivid, suspenseful, funny. I found myself wanting to Google her route as I read, to see what she saw and further explore her surroundings.
as with EPL, Strayed embarked on the journey to Heal Herself- from her past and more pressingly, from her mother's death. it does happen, but not in the epic "tears on mountaintops" way she imagined, of course. it's a subtle transformation that she weaves into the story with a couple cathartic moments at the end, making me tear up just like this NY Times reviewer. overall, a great read. highly recommend.