A Book & Movie Review of Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Uniquely this book is a first-person recount of the author’s own journey of self-discovery. Initially reeling from the life-changing events of her mother’s death and the subsequent drifting away from her family…leads Cheryl down a path of self-destruction and heavy drug use. This is coupled with a string of meaningless affairs that dissolve her marriage and leave her all alone. In an attempt to put all the pieces of her life back together, Cheryl seeks solace and answers in hiking eleven-hundred miles of the Pacific Crest Trail – Alone.
The PCT (Pacific Crest Trail)
Spanning from Mexico through the United States and all the way up to Canada, the Pacific Crest Trail is over 2,600 miles long. The elevation changes on the trail are extreme, as it contains both desert and snow-capped mountain ranges. The trail creation took 25 years from start to finish and was originally dreamed up by Clinton Clarke in 1932. The Pacific Crest Tail, also known as the PCT, is one of the most prestigious trails to complete as it would take an investment of many months. As with anything extreme, the PCT has claimed several lives over the years with the ever-changing landscapes and extreme weather conditions found along its route.
Always Be Prepared
No one can say that Cheryl wasn’t prepared for this trip. In her over-preparedness her pack is stuffed to the brim, and all of her gear is brand new. The main antagonists are both her backpack and her shoes. Her pack is nicknamed “Monster,” a name derived from the ginormous size and sheer weight. Fret not, as the pack eventually does get thinned out. A reminder to all of you planning to go hiking; always break in your gear first. Especially your hiking boots. The blisters that result from brand new boots are never pleasant.
Along her trek Cheryl meets some very interesting characters. Of note are people who help her out with food and a hot shower to other backpackers who are also hiking the PCT. From the blistering heat in the desert to camping in the snowy mountains, it’s nature versus man at it’s finest. My personal favorite moment was the epic showdown between Cheryl and her boots in the wilderness.
The Book VS. The Movie
The biggest differences between the two mediums is that the book’s sequence of events is chronological and features a descriptive first-person narrative of events, whereas the movie advances the plot by featuring flashbacks in between sections of the present journey in order to reveal more details of the whole story.
Read It Or Leave It?
This is the perfect novel for any die-hard backpacker. A definite must read for anyone who is about to go on an adventure. A little word of caution is that the pre-journey drug use and string of affairs may be less identifiable. Perhaps the most real connection felt will be with anyone that has ever struggled or lost a loved one too soon. In Wild, Cheryl leaves nothing out and completely bares her soul.
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