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Memoir set in the USA (Wild – ‘a journey of unpacked feelings’)

19th April 2014

Wild by Cheryl Strayed: memoir set in the USA (Western States).

‘Never never never give up’. Winston Churchill.

0307476073.01.ZTZZZZZZA memoir set in the USA. Your mother dies from cancer, which progresses quickly and when she is still young.

So what do you do as a 26 year old who has not really come to terms with her mother’s death four years earlier and the disintegration of her family thereafter?

Most people would seek bereavement counselling but Cheryl Wild takes on a challenge that most of us just could not imagine. She decides to walk along the Pacific Crest Trail. She walked about 1100 miles along the west coast of America from the Mojave Desert up to Washington State.

She had no experience and had not done any serious hiking in her life. Her inspiration to do this came after seeing a book The Pacific Crest Trail, Volume 1: California.

Cheryl felt as if she was in the wilderness and needed and wanted to find a way out. She didn’t know where she was going but did when she got there, the Bridge of the Gods. So she took herself off to the wilderness to navigate herself through all her emotions; some of them very raw.


The author reading from her book

She had never backpacked before and many would say – and she herself would most probably agree – was totally unprepared for this epic personal challenge. She carried a very heavy back pack, symbolic in itself to the heavy burden of emotion and confusion she was carrying around with her all day, every day. Even when it was not on her back she had callouses and sores on her hips and back as a reminder.

As her journey progresses people she meets on the way help her to unload that back pack and remove things she does not really need. Unpacking feelings.

The early chapters of the book describe her mother’s death and her early life as a child. This in itself feels therapeutic; getting it out and down. Throughout the book, which is a memoir, Cheryl explores her relationship with her mother and all the emotions she experienced. But it is also a chronicle of her journey, the people she met on the way, the risks she took, the determination to achieve her goal and changing her plans if she needed to when faced with risk.

I found a woman in this book that needed to be released from her emotional reaction to her early experiences. I admire her, she was tough, kept going and was brave. This book provides a good example of leadership and when all else fails you don’t give up, you seek a way and you follow it.

This is a memoir that is an excellent motivational book to encourage you along the Pacific Crest Trail. It may even inspire you to take up a personal challenge!

There are some wonderful quotes in this book in addition to Winston Churchill’s quote at the beginning:

‘Im a slow walker, but I never walk back.’ Abraham Lincoln.

Cheryl Wild was walking, carrying a heavy backpack to find her way forward and not go back.

A personal interpretation by Ann Reddy for the TripFiction Team

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