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Strayed hammers home her hard-won sentences like a box of nails. There was the driving across the country from Minneapolis to Portland, Oregon, and, a few days later, catching a flight to Los Angeles and a ride to the town of Mojave and another ride to the place where the PCT crossed a highway. In spite of the bears and the rattlesnakes and the scat of the mountain lions I never saw; the blisters and scabs and scrapes and lacerations. For a good number of years shed mostly been a vegetarian. We were finally on our way up to see the last doctor. The one who would gather everything that had been gathered about my mom and tell us what was true. Our names blurred into one in my mothers mouth all my life. We received government cheese and powdered milk, food stamps and medical assistance cards, and free presents from do-gooders at Christmastime. She would mix food coloring into sugar water and pretend with us that it was a special drink. She would spread her arms wide and ask us how much and there would never be an end to the game. There was the quitting my job as a waitress and finalizing my divorce and selling almost everything I owned and saying goodbye to my friends and visiting my mothers grave one last time. Duluth was a freezing hick town where doctors who didnt know what the hell they were talking about told forty-five-year-old vegetarian-ish, garlic- eating, natural-remedy-using nonsmokers that they had late-stage lung cancer, thats what. I followed behind, not allowing myself to think a thing. But she would never get there, no matter how wide she stretched her arms. Her love was full-throated and all-encompassing and unadorned. She loved horses and Hank Williams and had a best friend named Babs. She worked and worked and worked, and still we were poor. in a snooty British voice that made us laugh every time.
By laying bare a great unspoken truth of adulthoodthat many things in life dont turn out the way you want them to, and that you can and must live through them anyway Wild feels real in many ways that many books about finding oneself do not. Strayed is a courageous, gritty, and deceptively elegant writer. Wall Street Journal Wild is the kind of candid vision quest-like memoir that you dont come across often. Then I considered the source: Cheryl Strayed, the author of a lyric yet tough-minded first novel [called] Torcha Great Lakes Book Award finalist . Shattered at 26 by her mothers death, her familys fragmenting, and the end of her marriage, Strayed upped and decided to do something way out of the realm of her experience; here she confronts snowstorms and rattlesnakes even as she confronts her personal pain. Barbara Hoffert, Library No one can write like Cheryl Strayed. Finding it so late was common, when it came to lung cancer. Together we repeatedly walked the perimeter of our land in those first months as landowners, pushing our way through the wilderness on the two sides that didnt border the road, as if to walk it would seal it off from the rest of the world, make it ours. Trees that had once looked like any other to me became as recognizable as the faces of old friends in a crowd, their branches gesturing with sudden meaning, their leaves beckoning like identifiable hands. There was nothing that could have been done, he told us. Radiation might reduce the size of the tumors that were growing along the entire length of her spine. A year later, he and my mom took the twelve-thousand-dollar settlement he received and with it bought forty acres of land in Aitkin County, an hour and a half west of Duluth, paying for it outright in cash. There was nothing to dif- ferentiate it from the trees and bushes and grasses and ponds and bogs that surrounded it in every direction for miles. Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain Strayeds language is so vivid, sharp, and compelling that you feel the heat of the desert, the frigid ice of the High Sierra and the breathtaking power of one remarkable woman finding her wayand herselfone brave step at a time. In Wild, she describes her journey from despair to transcendence with honesty, humor, and heart-cracking poignancy. Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia and Seeking Peace Cheryl Strayed is one of the most exciting writers Ive come across in a long time. She was alone, with Karen Cheryl Leif riding shotgun in her car. It is about forgiveness and grief and bravery and hope. Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle Cheryl Strayed can sure tell a story. He skinned her knees dragging her down a sidewalk in broad daylight by her hair. By twenty-eight she managed to leave him for the last time.