Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild is a poignant, no-holds barred, kick-ass memoir that will grab you by the throat and shake you to your core. Cheryl Strayed is 22 when her mom dies, and for the next four years she's a mess: after her marriage breaks up, she sleeps around, has an abortion and becomes addicted to heroin. Near rock bottom, she sees a book at a checkout counter about the Pacific Crest Trail, a wilderness trail running from the Mexican border to Washington State. She buys the book, deciding that to save herself she must hike the trail, solo; this "was what I had to do," she says. "I had to change." 

In a motel room in Mojave, Calif., about to embark, she packs up and realizes she's never really hiked, never really carried a pack as heavy as a small car before. Nevertheless, she takes a shaky step into the hot light. The very first day, she's stabbed by a Joshua tree, then loses her bandages in a gust of wind while trying to open her first aid kit with bloodied hands. That evening, she pulls out one of the few books she has allowed herself to carry and reads an Adrienne Rich poem entitled "Power" over and over.

And so it goes, for 1,100 miles and three arduous months--through injuries, hunger, thirst, strangers met, kindnesses shown, ice and snow, some hilarity, much suffering, almost quitting and much learning. She thinks about the "old thread I'd lost, the new one I was spinning," everything that had broken her, and how to make herself "whole again," and in the end, found. --Tom Lavoie, former publisher

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