Wild is the memoir of Cheryl Strayed's (she legally made up her last name after her divorce) 1,100-mile hike alone along the Pacific Crest Trail in 1995 when she was 26 years old. She had never hiked before but embarked on this hard journey for reflection on her life after grieving the untimely death of her mother and her divorce due to her promiscuity and heroin use. She travels with a backpack too heavy she can't even carry and shoes the wrong size which cause her to lose toenails. Her physical problems are no match to the emotional baggage she carries as this becomes a journey of redemption and salvation.
The book is completely honest and open about her faults while still having some humor to it. While all the details of every story couldn't be completely put into a film, I was glad I read the book first to have the back story to the scenes. While reading the book I googled a lot of the names to see the beautiful scenery, which made me want to go to Oregon to do some day hikes. The film brought all the beautiful scenery to life. The loneliness of the trail was met with wild animals like elks, wild cows, fox, black bears, frogs, rattlesnakes on top of intense heat and record snowfalls. She also managed to meet the generosity of so many strangers on the PCT that she was nicknamed the Queen of the PCT for being recipient of so much kindness from others.
Cheryl was raised by a single mother who escaped an abusive marriage. Her mother worked as a waitress to support the family and later attended college with Cheryl. Both were avid readers and fans of poetry, this comes out in the lyrical style of her book. I needed a dictionary so many times while reading it. Once her mother died she basically had no family left as her brother and step-father distanced themselves. She read books during this solitary journey but couldn't bring herself to burn them afterwards to lose the weight in her backpack. The book Wild, is what it means to be fully alive, even in the face of catastrophe, physical and psychic hardship and loss.