Wild, by Cheryl Strayed: A 2-part book review

After being asked countless times how I feel about the book Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, I took the time to finally read it in hopes of doing a review for my readers.  I’ve got so much to say about this book that I’ve decided to do a two part review on my blog in hopes to finally answer all the questions I’ve been asked about the book.  In part one, I’m going to list all my gripes and complaints of the book.  Part two will be my positive thoughts because, hey, we should end on a good note, right?!  Let’s dive right in: 

During the book I did a lot of eye rolling.  I’m not going to lie that it struck me immediately that Strayed is a writer and I feel that the entire book was written in such a way to dramatize certain events to, well, sell books.  The major eye rolling points for me came every time she meets and mentions a man in her book.  Any man to Cheryl is either incredibly good looking or incredibly creepy.  As a long-distance hiker myself, I can tell you I’ve never felt this was the case.  Every time a man isn’t sexy, the situation turns dramatic with the author having fleeting thoughts of being raped and murdered on the side of a remote highway or at a campsite.  Every time a man is remotely good looking, we have to hear how she thinks of laying next to them or touching them or being close to them in some way, shape or form.  As a woman, reading a book that so many people find empowering this is really disheartening to me.  In a way, it seems to perpetuate a stereotype that women are damsels who are in constant need of help or protection and need a man to hike with them.  

Along the same lines of being a damsel, Strayed is afraid of SO MANY THINGS along her hike.  In the first pages of her books, she describes carrying “the world’s loudest whistle” in lieu of a gun (which really doesn’t need to ever be carried on a trail, so the mention of this is irritating in itself).  She talks of spending her teenage years living “in the north woods of Minnesota” yet is afraid of animals when she encounters them - the most memorable being in her first days on the trail when she is terrified of a creature she continuously calls a “moose”.  She on one page describes being afraid of hearing coyotes calling out and on another mentions it to be a comforting thought of home in those north woods.  

Cheryl, with the exception of her water filter, has done no testing of her gear.  She has no idea how to fit things into her pack and actually breaks her stove due to not even bothering to see what kind of fuel it needs.  Granted, if she would have hydrated her food in water all day while she hiked she wouldn’t have been in such dire straits as she risks running out of food until her stove gets fixed.  Her backpack is lovingly named “Monster” due to the fact that it is half her weight and she carries nearly 25 pounds worth of water every day.  It’s not a wonder she finds herself beating up her feet (losing six toenails during her 1100-mile hike) and getting chafed and calloused due to ill-fitting gear!  Even her resupplies seem ill-planned.  While she does mail herself all the food she plans to need at her resupply points, she severely limits herself by carrying on $20 at a time, most of which she immediately spends at the small store or restaurant she’s in.  At one place, she can barely tip a dime due to this lack of money.  This not only is risky, it gives hikers a bad name in trail towns due to poor tipping, especially when trail towns tend to be incredibly small stops where businesses are small and family-owned.  

Be sure to read part two of my review posting soon.  I’ll go over the positive things I read in the book, as well as give my conclusions and recommendations about reading the book!