Release date: 2012 / 336 pages
Synopsis(from Amazon): At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.
Review: I really expected and wanted to enjoy this more. I devoured it over the holidays — couldn’t put it down and recommended it to more than a few family members. I’m certainly glad I read Strayed’s story — time well spent. However, I expected to like her a bit more at the end. I love memoirs — this may be my favorite genre right now — and Strayed knew exactly where to begin her story, how much background / motivation to include, and where to end it. She is a strong writer with an excellent ear for narrative and character, so the pages truly flew by.
But I wanted her to get a bit further on her spiritual journey — and I don’t mean I wanted her to “find God” or embrace any particular religion or discipline. But she had a lot of time on her hands as she hiked the PCT and I expected or desired more introspection. I didn’t get the feeling that she understood her past actions much better in Oregon than she had in California. But as an adventure tale, this was quite compelling.
Coincidentally, I had been asked to read Paul Molyneaux’s story of hiking the Appalachian trail by Shelf Awareness and Following Atticus by TLC Tours a few months ago. So I have learned about some of the most inspiring landscape in our country — landscape that “mere mortals” can experience (as opposed to hiking Mt. Everest, for example). These stories have inspired me to add exploring my own mountain ranges — in my own backyard — this new year with my beloved Teo, who is lovely on the leash required by most national and state parks.
I think I expected more of Strayed since Oprah had christened her? Perhaps if I had read this simply as a tale of adventure, I would have been completely satisfied. But I kept waiting for an epiphany that never quite came and was a bit disappointed I wasn’t more drawn to Cheryl.