Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed from The Hippie Triathlete

Wild by Cheryl StrayedWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail has been on my “to read” list for well over a year now, but amidst all the craziness the past little while it still has not surfaced to the top of the pile. So, I was pretty stoked when another writer (and a very talented one at that!) offered up a link to her review of this widely popular book.

Jennifer Ward Barber’s review of Wild gives us a breath of fresh air amongst the Oprah-influenced, “this is the best thing since Eat, Pray, Love” reactions to this book. It’s not that this book won’t be just that for some readers, but I have been admittedly skeptical about the hype over this memoir. I’ve simply read too many of them (in fact I’m currently reviewing another one, I Promise Not to Suffer) and it takes a lot to really move me or give me something new to think about.

It was this part of Ward Barber’s review that really resonated with me:

“Had I never stood on a mountain peak naked, backpacked solo in the Rocky Mountains, free-camped and solo cycle toured, maybe then I would’ve found Stayed’s story more compelling. As for all the young women who haven’t done these things—and for whom Strayed might be an inspiration toward adventure—to them she is, and should be, a hero.”

I still look forward to reading Wild, thanks to Ward Barber’s (still) balanced review. And while I can’t promise to shed my bias while reading it, I can respect any author for the hard work they put into a book (let alone hike the Pacific Crest Trail) and the courage it takes to tell a personal story.

Read the review here on The Hippie Triathlete: Straying off the path with “Wild” 

What was your reaction to Wild?


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Categories: Lousy Day Literature

Author:Meghan J. Ward

Meghan J. Ward is an outdoor, travel and adventure writer based in Banff, Alberta. Her work has been published by a variety of magazines throughout North America, including IMPACT Magazine,, Kootenay Mountain Culture and She specializes in creating marketing materials and web content for the tourism industry and beyond.

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4 Comments on “Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed from The Hippie Triathlete”

  1. outdoorcanvas
    November 25, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    Well I’m a guy…and I really enjoyed the book. I don’t think just because a woman wrote it, that this has to be some sort of feminist Oprah Winfrey woman’s only bookclub book. Any outdoorsy person that likes to hike & likes real life stories & life journeys should appreciate it. If your a non-ourdoorsy valley girl that is more concerned with what Miley Cyrus is wearing…then I can see her story certainly not being very “compelling”. :)

    I liked her candor, her sense of humor and her ability to in retrospect just be brutally honest about herself & her shortcomings in life and how that intertwined with her going to hike the PCT solo in the first place. I would say it’s a a 60/40 personal story vs nature story in the writing. She writes how people actually think but is bold enough to actually say it in print. I found her to come across as “real”.

    My wife is going to read it next.

    • November 27, 2013 at 10:37 am #

      Thanks for offering up your perspective! I’m not sure what you mean with your comment about Miley Cyrus and the story not being “compelling,” but I think you have it opposite from what Jennifer intended in her review. From my understanding, she meant it wasn’t compelling for a person, such as herself, who has sought a bit more adventure in life, but it may be more compelling to those who would see Strayed as a hero because they themselves have never taken a solo journey in the wilderness.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it! I look forward to reading it, too.

  2. November 26, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    … stood naked on a mountain top??!? I’ve been on several peaks, but always with warm clothes on. It gets cold and windy up there!

    I haven’t read Wild, but I’ve heard lots of great praise for it, including a gushing interview on NPR. I have to admit that (1) I’m a little bit skeptical about things that I only hear glowing praise for, and (2) slightly annoyed at the fact that this is hailed as a solo thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail, when she stopped before the best (and possibly the most challenging) part of the trail. :( I feel like I must be breaking some kind of taboo just mentioning that! I hope people can forgive me my local pride.

    • November 27, 2013 at 10:39 am #

      Thanks, Forrest! I haven’t read it yet, as I mentioned, but I also don’t think you can call it a thru-hike if you don’t actually complete it! Living in a national park and being well acquainted with most of the trails, I can understand your local pride.

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