I remember not loving the film based on this book, so when it was selected as the next book for my book club, I wasn’t overly excited. But I know a lot of people have found this book super inspirational – I believe that the number of women who went on to hike the Pacific Crest Trail increased considerably after the book was published.
Essentially, it’s the story of a woman who, in the years after her mother died, her once close family found themselves apart, her marriage had broken down, she was sleeping around and doing drugs and needed to find herself. She’d grown up camping and doing outdoorsy things, and so taking a long walk across California and Oregon didn’t seem too much of a stretch.
I can see how it is inspirational – she finds herself in all manners of dilemma, some caused by herself and her unpreparedness, and some just plain bad luck – and she pushes on. For me, I know I would have quit much sooner. I also think that some of the things I would have done better – like testing all the equipment beforehand and measuring the weight of what I was carrying… but I also think that the moment I realised that I was in great pain, or had faulty or the wrong equipment, I’d be done. I didn’t mind it as a read – Strayed writes beautifully, and I like her a lot. I enjoyed Sugar Calling, the podcast she made in 2020 talking to a variety of writers about writing and the pandemic. I’m glad others find this inspiring, but it’s not really my cup of tea.