A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.
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.
Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her. (From the publisher.)
Discussion Questions (borrowed from Dear Wendy):
1. “Cheryl’s pack, also known as Monster, is one of those real-life objects that also makes a perfect literary metaphor: Cheryl has too much carry on her back and in her mind. Are there other objects she takes with her or acquires along the way that take on deeper meanings? How so?”
2. ‘Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves,’ Cheryl writes her first day on the trail. She is speaking about her fear of rattlesnakes and mountain lions and serial killers. To defeat that fear, she tells herself a new story, the story that she is brave and safe. What do you think about this approach, which she herself calls “mind control”? What are some of her other ways of overcoming fear?
3. “Walking on the trail during the first few weeks, Cheryl writes, ‘My mind was a crystal vase that contained only one desire. My body was its opposite: a bag of broken glass.’ Through the book she talks about the blisters, the dehydration, the exhaustion, and the hunger. How—and why—did this physical suffering help her cope with her emotional pain?”
4. “Think about the things — both physical and mental — Cheryl discards along the trail. What are they? How do they change her when they get left behind?”
5. “What does the death of Lady mean for Cheryl? What did that horse represent to her and to her mother—and to the rest of their family?”
6. “Why might Cheryl have identified the fox she sees on the trail as her mother?”
7. “Cheryl’s fellow hikers play a large role in her experience on PCT. How do you think they contribute to her grieving and healing process? In what ways, beyond providing practical aid, did they enable her to finish her hike?”
****Our book club meet up this month will be a little different. Marnie has opened her house to us so that we can watch the Wild movie as we discuss the book. I just love doing that! Everyone just bring a snack to share and whatever beverage you’d like to drink.
Marnie does have cats, so if you have allergies please take that into consideration.
9014 Brigadoon St.
San Antonio, TX 78254