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WILD: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail ~ by Cheryl Strayed

Monday, August 13th, 2012


I thoroughly enjoyed reading WILD and was very happy that one of my book groups chose it for this month’s selection.   It is a good read and I find it enjoyable to discover the route of various “self-discovery” biographies and in discovering how others have made significant changes in their lives.

I especially enjoyed WILD, because I heard Cheryl Strayed being interviewed on a radio show and she included in her discussion why she took some time to integrate the lessons of the journey before writing her experience and getting it published. I enjoyed the author’s including additional stories and more information on the Pacific Coast Trail.

After Cheryl’s mother died of a very aggressive form of cancer, the author was having difficulty finding her inner self.  She was wandering and exploring, but unable to write the last paper to graduate from college.  At 18, she was trying to hold the family together and walk in her mother’s shoes and keep everything connected to assist her siblings.  Strayed and her husband spent some time moving around and trying on various locations to see if leaving Minnesota would help her find her way.  She struck off on her own to Portland, Oregon and there disappeared into a heroin addiction.  Loving husband to the rescue and detox later she came across the field guide to the Pacific Crest Trail Book 1: California.   It drew her in and captured her heart and soul.

At 22, she divorced her husband and bought a “too big” backpack and boots from REI in Minnesota.  She did not work out or study to make preparations, she just purchased what the field guide suggested, made up boxes with new supplies for each rest stop, and dropped $20 in a Ziploc baggie inside each re-supply box.

Her friend in Portland shipped the resupply boxes as she called and let her know the next location.

Cheryl was determined to do the 1,000 miles of the trail alone, beginning in Mojave, California and within 4 months’ time.  She enjoyed being in nature, contemplating, singing, and discovering the wild life and beasties of the trail.   She met a number of interesting people and has stayed in touch with some of them.   She strengthened her resolve and problem-solved a number of life-changing situations. I often felt as though I was right there under the stars, too hot and too cold.  I could identify with the blisters and lost toe nails each step of her journey.  I think I even enjoyed her ice cream cone when she reached the Columbia River as much as she did.

What a great summer read.  What a great opportunity to witness how someone else explored their values, their relationships, and their perceptions.   Her tributes and sharing of her mother’s gifts and bounty were worth the whole read.  That Cheryl found her center in writing on this venture; one can tell that this medium will keep her moving forward on her journey to her authentic self.

OPRAH put WILD on her book group list.

I gave this book a good solid 4 and hope you will pick it up and enjoy it as much as I did.  I enjoyed feeling part of nature and being well grounded on that 2 foot wide trail!

No one asked me to review this book and it was a Kindle purchase which I added to my personal library.

If you purchase anything from Amazon from this site or Powell’s I will receive a few beans in my bucket. Thank you.

Related Reading:
Poser
My Stroke of Insight 
Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake
The Paper Garden 

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry ~Rachel Joyce

Monday, July 30th, 2012


I could not put THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY down.  I began reading this book because I needed a novel and not another self-help book and I just read it straight through.  It was as though I was on the pilgrimage with Fry and sharing each step of the way.   I finished reading it and then went back to the first page and began to read it again.

A pilgrimage is usually about doing some kind of adventure to find the center and the balance in life.  I spent a month walking the Appalachian Trail in college to think about a new major in college because I was not talented enough to continue in music.   I am reading about a pilgrimage now where a young woman walks the Pacific Crest Trail to figure out her balance after her mother’s death.   THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY is about an emotional balancing/sorting which will tickle your funny bone nearly every step of the way.

The bookkeeper from the Brewery where Harold Fry worked before retiring has sent him a letter sharing that she is dying from a cancerous tumor.  Fry feels he must write to her and say he is sorry for her suffering and so pens a one sentence response, seals it in an envelope, stamps it and sets out from home to post it.  He has on his yachting shoes and a simple cotton jacket and heads out to the end of the drive and a post box.   He passes first one and then another, thus the story begins as Harold decides that he should hand deliver the note and by doing so he will keep his friend alive.

The Pilgrimage goes from the southern point of the UK to one of the most northern spots in the country, where the hospice center is located.  Step by step Harold Fry makes progress and sorts out his life and his feelings.    Maureen Fry is left at home and is at first worried and then begins a process of her own centering, sorting and changing focus – her own pilgrimage while keeping the home fires burning.

tlclogoThe book is very well written and while a gentle or walking paced read, I just had to keep turning the pages and figuring out more and more.  The second reading enabled some release of old emotions for me also; reading the novel formed a pilgrimage within me.  There was a transition that took place in the book also allowing one to figure out the focus of retirement and what to do with nearly a third of one’s life after working.    Harold Fry has no plan or map or cell phone or preparation for his quest, he just steps out and begins; he has faith.   THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY is quite the book and I am certain I will read it again.  I am hoping I can persuade all of you to read it too.

Simply Marvelous

How do you keep your faith and have you taken a pilgrimage that balanced and sorted for you?

I want to thank TLC Online Book Tours for suggesting I review this book and Random House for sending me an advanced copy to read.

YouTube Interview with Rachel Joyce about book

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s  from this site I will receive a few beans in my bucket!  Thank you

Related Reading:
The President’s Club
Poser
Walter’s Muse
Unfinished Business