I read. A lot. On any given day, I need to be prepared to “booktalk” titles, both fiction and nonfiction, with students in grades 6-12. Intense, right? This year, so far, I’ve read 55 books with a focus on titles of interest to middle school kids. After a couple of realistic novels about 6th or 7th graders, I generally need to cleanse my reader palate with something a bit more satisfying and tasty. Something a bit, shall we say, Wild.
Yes, I know everyone read this book months (years?) ago while I was busy reading A Monster Calls, but that doesn’t diminish the impact this memoir had on me. There’s just something about a female firsthand account of trying circumstances which I find completely captivating. Imagine that.
Cheryl Strayed’s recounting of her solo hike along the Pacific Coast Trail is an absolutely inspiring work of nonfiction. I grew up in close proximity to the Appalachian Trail and have always been fascinated by the idea of trekking its length, but certainly not alone. The physical and mental strength required to complete an accomplishment such as either of these is remarkable to me. When you factor in the emotional state Strayed was in when she began her quest, her successful completion of her goal borders on the miraculous.
There were a number of passages in this memoir which caused me to pause, process and reflect, but none more than this:
“…it occurred to me for the first time that growing up poor had come in handy. I probably wouldn’t have been fearless enough to go on such a trip with so little money if I hadn’t grown up without it. I’d always thought of my family’s economic standing in terms of what I didn’t get: camp and lessons and travel and college tuition and the inexplicable ease that comes when you’ve got access to a credit card that someone else is paying off. But now I could see the line between this and that – between a childhood in which I saw my mother and stepfather forge ahead with two pennies in their pocket and my own general sense that I could do it too.”
Maybe I, too,
can will go Wild someday.
Other inspiring autobiographies by women: