At age twenty-six, Cheryl Strayed felt like her life was falling apart. She had never really recovered from her mother’s death four years earlier, turning to drugs and sex with strangers to numb herself. Her marriage had fallen apart when her husband learned about the infidelity. Her siblings and stepfather had scattered and fallen out of touch, and her dad had never been in the picture. Feeling desperate and isolated from everyone she’d loved, Cheryl decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State. And, wildest of all, she would do it alone. She had never been a long-distance hiker and didn’t know anyone who had hiked the PCT, but from the moment she first heard of the Trail she became almost obsessed with the idea that hiking it, alone with herself and her thoughts, would be the key to putting her life back together. What she found on the Trail, however, was much more than that, and she found herself challenged in ways that she never imagined.
I really disliked parts of this book and really liked others. I thought a lot of it was really cheesy. I also don’t think Cheryl really changed as much as she pretended to. And I felt like she misrepresented some things in a harmful way—for instance, she does heroin for a while and then “just quits”…really? This makes it looks like doing drugs is no big deal without big consequences. Still, I found the story entertaining—particularly the parts about all the random, wonderful people she met on the trail. An interesting book, but nothing that really challenged me or made me think.