I finished the underwhelming Wild: From lost to found on the Pacific Coast Trail a few months back, and it was a battle to get through it all. Read my thoughts below, if you don’t fear spoilers.
The good: I enjoyed the descriptions of the trail, and almost anything related to the actual hike, and I thought the writing was quite good. I also appreciated how honest the writer was.
The bad: This is a memoir, so it’s key for the reader to care about the subject, but I didn’t find Cheryl Strayed likeable or sympathetic. I wasn’t invested in or inspired by her triumphs, and I found the other hikers she meets along the way to be more colorfully drawn.
Hiking the PCT is mega impressive and badass and an appealing level of crazy, and the author did/does have an interesting life. However, no amount of contemplative staring out over lakes could convince me that this was some intense, transformative journey. It seems lucky – not inspiring – that by running away to the PCT, she was able to learn to grow up. Also, for a story of the time she was practically alone for months in the forest, there’s an exceptional amount about men, and nearly everything about men is about sex. I wanted her revelations to be more focused on how she relates to the world, or learning to like herself, but instead so much of the book seemed to hone in on how she relates to men. She might be hardy and resilient, but certainly not empowering.
Anyway, I understand why a lot of people like this book, but I didn’t learn or feel anything beyond an appreciation of the toughness of long distance hikers.