“A gritty memoir and a 1,000 mile journey.”

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

This book is a raw, gritty read about a woman who decides to hike solo for over 1000 miles from California to Oregon while dealing with the grief of losing her mother to cancer and going through a divorce. The writing is superb and the story actually inspired me to go backpacking. I struggled with some of the grittier details and the harsh language and because of that I cannot wholeheartedly recommend this book to people such as my mother, or grandmother. It is not a story for the faint of heart or squeamish.

At various times throughout reading the book I vacillated between three and five stars. I didn’t anticipate the emotional response I would have as I finished the final few pages. As I began reading about Cheryl, a broken miserable and often despicable person who both lost and abandoned every good thing in her life before beginning her journey on the Pacific crest Trail, I didn’t know if I would be able to respect her as a person. Extramarital affairs in books and movies are a no-fly zone for me. I don’t like hearing about it, I don’t feel empathetic for the adulterous person. As her journey began and her story unfold and I found myself compelled to listen to what she had to say. I don’t believe that her betrayal(s) was in any way excusable but I began to see her as a multifaceted individual with layers of complication, hurt, and abuse that led to her decisions.

The journey she went on both physical and spiritual and emotional was incredible to read about. At times it was even taxing. It made me long for the mountains. It made me want to jump up and begin hiking Pacific crest Trail. It made me want to eat voraciously and shower several times a day. By the time I got to the last moments of her last day I was sobbing, for her and for her accomplishment. I felt honored to have “met” her. I loved the people she met along the way and how they shaped her. I love how she became known first as the hapless hiker and then Queen of the PCT.

Strayed’s writing was beautiful. The book was written in a non-linear style which added a lot to the structure of the book, and allowed the reader to watch her change in a deep way. I love that we got to see how different pieces of her life affected her at different times on the trail. One of my favorite aspects was that she took books with her along the way and that she would read them as a treat before bed. It helped me relate to her, and it made me want to read the books that she selected and it made me think about the books that I would select on a long trip. Desert island books.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good memoir, a good redemption story, and an epic journey.

 

Reviewed by:

Melissa Turney

Added 26th May 2015

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