Wild (memoir)

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Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
AuthorCheryl Strayed
CountryUnited States of America
GenresMemoir; Addiction memoir; grief memoir; adventure; self help; coming of age
Publication date
March 20, 2012
Media typeHardcover, Kindle Edition, Audio CD, Audible Audio
Pages336 pages (hardcover)

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail is the 2012 memoir by the American writer, author, and podcaster Cheryl Strayed. The memoir describes Strayed's 1,100-mile hike on the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995 as a journey of self-discovery. The book reached No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller list, and was the first selection for Oprah's Book Club 2.0.

The film adaptation was released in December 2014 and stars Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl Strayed.


Wild is Cheryl Strayed's memoir of her 1,100-mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. Strayed's journey begins in the Mojave Desert and she hikes through California and Oregon to the Bridge of the Gods into Washington. The book also contains flashbacks to prior life occurrences that led Strayed to begin her journey.[1][2]

At the age of 22, Strayed had been devastated by the lung cancer death of her mother, who was only 45. Her stepfather disengaged from Strayed's family, and her brother and sister remained distant. Strayed and her husband divorced, and eventually a lover convinced her to start using heroin.[1]

Seeking self-discovery and resolution of her enduring grief and personal challenges, at the age of 26, Strayed set out on her journey, alone and with no prior hiking experience. Wild intertwines the stories of Strayed's life before and during the journey, describing her physical challenges, emotional, and spiritual realizations while on the trail.[1]

Distinctions and recognition[edit]


By the time the book was published, actress Reese Witherspoon's film company Pacific Standard had optioned Wild for film rights.[11][12] Witherspoon portrayed Strayed in the 2014 film Wild, which was written by the novelist Nick Hornby and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée.


In The New York Times, Dwight Garner wrote that "the lack of ease in (Strayed's) life made her fierce and funny; she hammers home her hard-won sentences like a box of nails," adding that the memoir reflected a "too infrequent sight: that of a writer finding her voice, and sustaining it, right in front of your eyes."[13]

In The New York Times, Dani Shapiro called the book "spectacular... at once a breathtaking adventure tale and a profound meditation on the nature of grief and survival, ... both a literary and human triumph."[14] Shapiro wrote that unlike many parallel-arc stories, Strayed's two parallel narratives—the challenging hike itself and the difficult life events that preceded it—are delivered in perfect balance.[14] According to Shapiro, the memoir did not overdramatize its events, but followed a "powerful, yet understated, imperative to understand (their) meaning," allowing readers "to feel how her actions and her internal struggles intertwine, and appreciate the lessons she finds embedded in the natural world."[14]

In Slate, Melanie Rehak began by contrasting Wild with the 2006 memoir Eat, Pray, Love—whose story was "pleasant, mild, romantic, and completely lacking urgency" and in which everything would work out.[15] In contrast, Wild was said to be "crammed with... passages of vicious discomfort" and was carried by a voice that was "fierce, billowing with energy, precise."[15] Crediting the years that passed between Strayed's 1995 hike and her 2012 memoir, Rehak wrote that Strayed had "fine control" over "unfathomable, enormous experiences" and never wrote "from a place of desperation in the kind of semi-edited purge state that has marred so many true stories."[15]

By the time of the film Wild's release, in December 2014 A.O. Scott wrote in The New York Times that Strayed's memoir was "already a classic of wilderness writing and modern feminism."[16] In 2019, Anna Leahy wrote in the Los Angeles Review of Books that Wild was likely the most popular memoir approaching the subject of cancer from the perspectives of loved ones and caregivers.[17]


  1. ^ a b c Shapiro, Dani (2012-03-30). "The High Road / Wild, a Hiking Memoir by Cheryl Strayed". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-12-24. archive.
  2. ^ "Cheryl Strayed Hikes Her Way Through Heartbreak in Wild". Oprah.com (also, April 2012 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine). March 2012. Archived from the original on March 24, 2012. (Originally titled "Inward Bound: Hiking Her Way Through Heartbreak").
  3. ^ "Oprah Announces Oprah's Book Club 2.0 - Video". Oprah.com. 2012-05-30. archive.
  4. ^ "Best Sellers - The New York Times - Hardcover Nonfiction". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-12-24. archive.
  5. ^ "15 best books of 2012 – nonfiction - 'Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,' by Cheryl Strayed". CSMonitor.com. 2012-12-03. Retrieved 2012-12-24. archive.
  6. ^ "Best Books 2012 — Goodreads Choice Awards". Goodreads.com. archive.
  7. ^ Book of the Week - Wild, bbc.co.uk.
  8. ^ "Wild / Awards and Recognition". NPR Arts & Life > Books. Archived from the original on January 19, 2015. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  9. ^ Kin, John (April 12, 2013). "2013 Oregon Book Awards Winners Announced". OPB (Oregon Public Broadcasting). Archived from the original on September 15, 2014.
  10. ^ Richard, Terry (August 25, 2015). "Pacific Crest Trail Days at hand for Cascade Locks". Oregon Live. Archived from the original on December 31, 2015.
  11. ^ Hallett, Alison (2012-03-15). "Cheryl Strayed's Wild Optioned by Reese Witherspoon | Blogtown, PDX". Blogtown.portlandmercury.com. archive.
  12. ^ "Reese Witherspoon Set For Nick Hornby's Book Adaptation 'Wild' For Fox Searchlight". deadline.com. 2013-07-16. Retrieved 2013-07-17.
  13. ^ Garner, Dwight (March 27, 2012). "The Tracks of an Author's, and a Reader's Tears / 'Wild' by Cheryl Strayed, a Walkabout of Reinvention". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 8, 2015.
  14. ^ a b c Shapiro, Dani (March 30, 2012). "The High Road / 'Wild,' a Hiking Memoir by Cheryl Strayed". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 13, 2014.
  15. ^ a b c Rehak, Melanie (March 3, 2012). "Trail of Tears". Slate. Archived from the original on March 3, 2012.
  16. ^ Scott, A. O. (December 2, 2014). "Walking With Solitude, and Her Baggage / 'Wild' Stars Reese Witherspoon". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 9, 2014.
  17. ^ Leahy, Anna (February 27, 2019). "The Enduring Appeal of Cancer Lit". Los Angeles Review of Books. Archived from the original on March 7, 2019.

External links[edit]