24 September, 2021

LitStaff Pick: Summer Lovin' – Best Books for Your Beachbag

 

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail
Cheryl Strayed

You may not have heard about Wild yet, but you will soon. Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of a journey across eleven hundred miles of the Pacific Coast Trail was published to acclaim this spring. Last Friday, it was chosen to launch the newest version of Oprah’s Book Club—designated 2.0 for its new Kindle and social networking options. Obviously, there isn’t another event in contemporary popular culture that can do more to make a book and author known, but even if that turn hadn’t occurred, it’s likely you would have found your way to Wild. The memoir recounts the author’s solo trek from the Mojave Desert to

Washington State, but it’s also the story of Strayed’s grief in the face of her mother’s premature death, her unraveled family, and the self-destructive streak that followed. Strayed’s sentences are pitch perfect, as is her deft handling of insight. She also has an unsentimental way with intense emotion, rendering each response with detachment while at the same time unfolding it carefully for the reader, like a treasured, ancient letter. There’s a lot of courage in Wild, and there’s also a great story.

There was the fact of the moon and the fact that I was sleeping out in the open on my tarp. There was the fact that I had woken because it seemed like small cool hands were gently patting me . . . those small cool hands were not hands, but hundreds of small cool black frogs. Small cool slimy black frogs jumping all over me.

Wild is a faceted picture of a journey that follows an inner path as its author tracks the worn tough miles of the trail. It’s the kind of book that once you finish, you’ll want your friends to read. I’ve already given my copy away and I’ll wager you’ll be giving away yours away too—or having a copy placed in your hands by a friend saying, “You’ve got to read this.”

-Lauren Alwan

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