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Chelsea Cain, author of The Night Season and Heartsick "A candid, inspiring narrative of the authors brutal physical and psychological journey through a wilderness of despair to a renewed sense of self," Kirkus Reviews, starred review (12/19/2011). She worked the day shift at a factory that manufactured plastic containers capable of holding highly corrosive chemicals and brought the rejects home.
People (4 stars) An addictive, gorgeous book that not only entertains, but leaves us the better for having read it. Hope Edelman, author of The Possibility of Everything and Motherless Daughters Smart, funny, and often sublime, Wild has something for everyonea fight for survival in the wilderness, a bad girls quest for redemptionall in the hands of a brilliant and evocative writer. By then we lived in a small town an hour outside of Minneapolis in a series of apartment complexes with deceptively upscale names: Mill Pond and Barbary Knoll, Tree Loft and Lake Grace Manor. She waited tables at a place called the Norseman and then a place called Infinity, where her uniform was a black T-shirt that said go for it in rainbow glitter across her chest.
In the wake of her mothers death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. In the fall wed attend school in Mc Gregor, the smaller of the two, with a population of four hundred, but all summer long, aside from the occasional visitor far-flung neighbors who stopped by to introduce themselvesit was us and our mom. We were swarmed by mosqui- toes as we worked, but my mother forbade us to use DEET or any other such brain-destroying, earth-polluting, future-progeny-harming chemical.
Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. We fought and talked and made up jokes and diversions in order to pass the time. wed ask one another over and over again, playing a game in which the person who was it had to think of someone, famous or not, and the others would guess who it was based on an infinite number of yes or no questions: Are you a man? Instead, she instructed us to slather our bodies with pennyroyal or peppermint oil.
It had begun before I even imagined it, precisely four years, seven months, and three days before, when Id stood in a little room at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and learned that my mother was going to die. Some of them were just what I dreamed of having, others less so. I was going to live the rest of my life without my mother. Not because we felt so alone in our grief, but because we were so together in it, as if we were one body instead of two. She was kindhearted and forgiving, generous and naïve.
That in truth my hike on the Pacific Crest Trail hadnt begun when I made the snap deci- sion to do it. It was an outfit that my mother had sewnshed made clothes for me all of my life. For some reason that sentence came fully formed into my head just then, temporarily blotting out the Fuck them prayer. I almost choked to death on what I knew before I knew. Or the one time when she screamed FUCK and broke down crying because we wouldnt clean our room.
Eddie would continue driving up on weekends throughout the summer and then stay come fall.
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.
Michael Schaub, National Public Radio This isnt Cinderella in hiking boots, its a woman coming out of heartbreak, darkness and bad decisions with a clear view of where she has been. We called it up north while we were still living in the town an hour outside of Minneapolis.
Oprah Winfrey, on Wild, first selection of her Book Club 2.0 One of the most original, heartbreaking and beautiful American memoirs in years. But shes not a smoker, I countered, as if I could talk him out of the diagnosis, as if cancer moved along reasonable, negotiable lines. Clumps of grass and the edges of the now-familiar bog became landmarks, guides, indecipherable to everyone but us.
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.