From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
by Cheryl Strayed
So I was really not excited about this book. People kept recommending it and I just wasn’t interested. I finally caved and decided to listen to the audiobook. I got about 1/3 of the way through it and I just couldn’t stand Cheryl. She was whining about everything and it seemed to me like she was just using the tragedy she’d experienced to justifying her bad behavior. My Mom died when I was younger too, so I feel pretty strongly about people using things like that as excuses to make horrible life choices. Grief does not give you the right to commit adultery or use heroine.
That being said, Cheryl grew on me as the book progressed. She was so honest about her experiences. She could have sugar-coated it or painted herself in a better light, but instead she just lays herself bare, faults and all. The result is an incredibly intense book that was surprisingly powerful.
Cheryl’s memoir mainly covers her time hiking 1,100 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. It flashes back and forth between the grueling hike, her childhood and her early twenties when her mother died and her marriage ended.
She writes with such delicate attention to detail that you can almost feel the blisters forming on her aching feet. There’s one disturbing scene with a horse that remains particularly ingrained in my mind. Cheryl is just so raw throughout the book. She’s was an inexperienced hiker and wasn’t prepared for her trip, but she still pushes on. She is trying to process her grief, the bad decisions she’s made, her future life, etc. all while putting her body through the most intense physical experience of her life.
BOTTOM LINE: I struggled through the beginning, but I’m glad I stuck with it. Cheryl might be a very different person from me, but her willingness to be honest about her struggle made for an intense memoir that I couldn’t put down.
Image from here.