(Warning, spoilers ahead.)
Oh, Wild. This book was just an absolutely heartbreakingly beautiful joy to read, I can't think of a better way to say it. I had heard it was good, of course, it hit lists and Oprah loved it and I saw it reviewed just everywhere, but I didn't really think about reading it until I saw it on Elizabeth's best of 2012 list. (You might remember, I'm reading all her picks as one of my 2013 goals.)
I am so glad that lady has good taste in books.
For those who don't know, Wild is a story of a woman (Cheryl Strayed, the author) who lost her mother, then her marriage, then herself and wanted to reclaim the latter by hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Southern California to the Washington border. She hiked alone for months, at the age of 26. She faced bears, rattlesnakes, dehydration, hitchhiking, aggressive men, lost toenails, pain, hunger, and more.
If only I could be a fraction of a badass.
You know what I loved about this book, among many many many things, was how she made me (the reader) feel like I could scale my own mountain, face my own obstacles. I might not ever hike a trail for two months, but I can do tough shit too. This all sounds very cheesy, but there was such a real mix of inspiration and relatability to her writing that I just want to take the woman out for a drink sometime and toast her and thank her.
(Probably won't happen but I can still WANT that, right?)
Anyway, I have a pretty good life, but we all have demons and we've all been young and broken (at some point) and full of loss, and Cheryl wrote so flawlessly, so descriptively, that I cried over my own broken 20-year-old self even though I haven't faced any of the particular things Cheryl faced. Oh, it was just a gem of a book.
Some of my favorite parts:
"Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me. Insisting on this story was a form of mind control, but for the most part, it worked."
"The thing about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, the thing that was so profound to me that summer--and yet also, like most things, so very simple--was how few choices I had and how often I had to do the thing I least wanted to do. How there was no escape or denial. No numbing it down with a martini or covering it up with a roll in the hay."
(about her father) "The good things aren't a movie. There isn't enough to make a reel. The good things are a poem, barely longer than a haiku. There is his love for Johnny Cash and the Everly Brothers. There are the delicious chocolate bars he brought home from his job at the grocery store. There are all the grand things he wanted to be."
"He seemed like someone I'd always know even if I never saw him again."
Obviously, I loved it. It'll stay with me for a while as the best books do. I'll think of parts of it on my commute to work, and I'll be jealous of each of you who haven't read it yet because you still have the chance to read it for the first time.
So, read it. Please.