WILD by Cheryl Strayed

wild, cheryl strated, reese witherspoon, book journey

After Cheryl’s mother was diagnosed with cancer at a young age and lost her life to it, Cheryl could not seem to escape the spiraling downward pull of her own life.  Her marriage was a loss, her father non-existent…

Four years later with nothing really changing Cheryl makes a decision.  With no prior training; just a stubbornness to succeed at something, she decides to hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State.  And do it alone.

What happens… well that is the story of WILD.



This is a book that I would say for me has been a bucket list book.  I have always been fascinated by those who go out on a pilgrimage to find themselves.  For myself, my own hard life, I have felt the pull to do something like this… now, that pull is even stronger.

I am not sure what took me so long to get to this book.  I have had it on the shelf for years.  When the movie was released I put it on my radar to read soon and then, more recently, downloaded the audio book with narration by Bernadette Dunne.

From this book I received many things I had hoped to….  I found out that it is possible to do such a hike without years of training (maybe not recommended – but certainly doable).  I learned from Cheryl’s own mistakes of what one should pack, what is a necessity and what is not.  I enjoyed how the other hikers she met along the way (well.. most of them), were like kindred spirits and they bonded together, helping one another – building friendships.

What I didn’t need to know….

As in pretty much any non fiction I read, memoirs, etc… I do not care to know about ones sexual escapades.  I am truly 100% not interested and am still a little baffled why these details are included in such reads. Occasionally in some books there is a point to such discussion.. this was not one of those books.  I have to wonder if it is a draw for some readers and maybe I am the minority – but really… I am a believer in TMI.  Yay for Cheryl for being prepared?  Yay for her willingness to be open and ready for anything?  I don’t get the appeal.

Overall – yes I am glad I read the book. I enjoyed the narration very much and thought that it was the perfect voice for Cheryl.  Other than what I mentioned above, I really enjoyed Cheryl’s story and still am searching in my own way for such a pilgrimage for myself… maybe not the time commitment that she put in, but I would love to some day dedicate a month to six weeks for something like this.  Thank you to Cheryl for showing that a woman can go out and succeed in such an adventure and for sharing the realities of how this changed her life.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 13 hours and 6 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: March 20, 2012


24 thoughts on “WILD by Cheryl Strayed

  1. I tried the audiobook version and was turned off by the same thing in the beginning. I picked it back up because, after the intro, I HAD to know what happened after she lost her shoes. That was the only thing that made me pick up the book again and finish it. I’m happy I read it, but yeah TMI. I just watched the movie and I think it was well done.

  2. I listened to this one when I was training for my first and only marathon four years ago. I remember where I was in long runs when I got to certain parts. It was a good read as I was embarking on something I had never done before, not as daunting as hiking that far alone, but I had my own trepidations and fears about running that far and if I could do it or not.

    1. OOh I bet this was beneficial! I did like that about the book, despite her obvious pains from being unprepared (her back pack rubbing her sides raw, wrong size boots, losing toenails…) she carried on… that’s pretty courageous.

  3. Sheila, I did not read this, but I saw the movie, which I thought was excellent (Reese Witherspoon’s best role to date, in my opinion). Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings about the book. I’m not a fan of graphic details, either.

  4. Sounds like the movie was the way to go with this one – I’m not remembering any sex in it at all, other than in flashbacks.

  5. Recommend The Canterbury Sisters , fictional pilgrimage but lighter. I have gone back and forth with grabbing audio of Wild. I enjoyed the book so I think I will. My quest? Kilimanjaro.

  6. I don’t understand why books add “sexual escapades” either. Like you, I couldn’t care less. To me, it makes the book less enjoyable. I do want to see the movie.

  7. I’m glad you got to this book. I liked it but did not love it. Who did they have read the audio? Not Cheryl right? I think she might have included her escapades and drug use etc. perhaps not only because they indeed happened but to show how down-and-out she was and how out of control she drifted after the death of her mother and the end of her marriage. Hmm. She went from rags to riches …. in terms of recovery, I gather.

  8. Great review!
    I didn’t read the book but did see the film. While I thoroughly understand your distaste for the sexscapades, I think the movie delivers it better and the parts are not as bad as one might think. I did still roll my eyes while watching the film. 🙂
    If you watch the movie, I’d be curious to hear your comparison to the book.

    Freda’s Voice

    1. I agree, the movie delivers the sexcapades better. It cuts a lot of it out and only leaves in a few to show just how far she went in her self-destruction.

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