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3.00002881794651 out of 53.00002881794651 out of 53.00002881794651 out of 53.00002881794651 out of 53.00002881794651 out of 5 3.00 (57,950 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Cheryl Strayed Narrator: Bernadette Dunne Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2012 ISBN: 9780307970305
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Cheryl Strayed was 26 years old when she made the rash and life-changing decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave desert to Washington State—1180 miles—alone. The year was 1995; she had just lost her mother to cancer and her marriage had collapsed. Her memoir of the trip, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, was published 17 years later in 2012 and quickly rose to the top of the New York Times Best Seller List, where it stayed at number one for seven weeks.

What makes Strayed's audiobook story even more fascinating is that she had never heard of the Pacific Crest Trail until she happened to run across a trail guide at her local book store in Minnesota, and she had virtually no hiking experience.

Immediately upon setting out on the trail, Strayed discovered her hiking boots did not fit properly. Far from civilization—and a shoe store—she continued her journey in excruciating and unrelenting pain until she had lost all of her toenails.

One aspect of this book which makes Wild unique among adventure chronicles is how Strayed narrates her story on two levels simultaneously: it's a tale of both physical and emotional suffering, and physical and emotional courage. Strayed encounters bears, rattlesnakes, record snowfalls and blistering heat over the course of her hike. She also faces—for the first time—the depths of her grief and her fears of the profound aloneness she faced on a daily basis.

In addition to Wild, Strayed has published two other books, the novel "Torch" and "Tiny Beautiful Things", a compilation of her popular advice columns written as "Dear Sugar" on the website rumpus.net. All of Strayed's titles are available as audiobooks. She has also published a number of personal essays that have appeared in The Washington Times Magazine, The New York Times Magazine and Vogue. Her essays have twice been selected for inclusion in The Best American Essays.

A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.

Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Stunning . . . An incredible journey, both inward and outward. Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
     
  • Strayed’s journey was as transcendent as it was turbulent. She faced down hunger, thirst, injury, fatigue, boredom, loss, bad weather, and wild animals. Yet she also reached new levels of joy, accomplishment, courage, peace, and found extraordinary companionship. Christian Science Monitor
  • A courageous and transforming journey—spirit and body. Ursula Hegi, author of Stones from the River
  • Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, Wild, proves she’s fearless: in life and in her writing…Searing…powerful…mesmerizing.” Publishers Weekly
  • This is a big, brave, break-your-heart-and-put-it-back-together-again kind of book. Cheryl Strayed is a courageous, gritty, and deceptively elegant writer. She walked the PCT to find forgiveness, came back with generosity—and now she shares her reward with us. I snorted with laughter, I wept uncontrollably; I don’t even want to know the person who isn’t going to love Wild. This is a beautifully made, utterly realized book. Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted and Cowboys Are My Weakness
     
  • “A candid, inspiring narrative of the author’s brutal physical and psychological journey through a wilderness of despair to a renewed sense of self.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
  • No one can write like Cheryl Strayed. Wild is one of the most unflinching and emotionally honest books I've read in a long time. It is about forgiveness and grief, bravery and hope. It is unforgettable. Ann Hood, author of The Knitting Circle
  • “A rich, riveting true story…Our verdict: Grade A.”

    Entertainment Weekly
  • Strayed writes a crisp scene; her sentences hum with energy. She can describe a trail-parched yearning for Snapple like no writer I know. She moves us briskly along the route, making discrete rest stops to parcel out her backstory. It becomes impossible not to root for her. Cleveland Plain Dealer
  • [A] vivid, touching and ultimately inspiring account of a life unraveling, and of the journey that put it back together.

    Wall Street Journal
  • In a style that embodies her wanderlust, Strayed transports us with this gripping, ultimately uplifting tale.

    Elle
  • Stunning . . . An incredible journey, both inward and outward. Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain
  • In Wild, Strayed recounts the road to redemption—a road buried in snow, crawling with rattlers, and patrolled by bears—with humor and irrefutably hard-won wisdom. Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair
     
  • Wild seamlessly intercuts Strayed’s occasionally harrowing adventures on the PCT—from bear sightings to the hot bartender she picks up in a trailside town—with recollections of her childhood and family, as well as postcard panoramas of the deserts, forests, and snowfields she traverses. Wild is a memoir that’s light on epiphany, but heavy on the importance of keeping moving—even when it’s hard. Even when your toenails keep falling off. . . . beautifully told. Alison Hallett, Portland Mercury 
  • How long is the journey to happiness? For Strayed, it was 1,100 miles. . . . Layered between tales of the trail are painful yet beautiful remembrances of the experiences that led her there: the heart-wrenching days spent at her dying mother’s bedside; the sadness and guilt she carried about her subsequent unraveling, which led to a divorce; and the attempts she made to escape these emotions through drugs, alcohol and men. . . . Though it’s easy to get lost among the cacophony of voices competing for attention in today’s memoir market, Wild rises above the clatter. Strayed is a brilliant storyteller with an extraordinary gift not only for language but also for sharing the wisdom she earned with each and every step. Spectacular. Kim Schmidt, American Way
  • After her mother died and her marriage fell apart, novelist Strayed impulsively decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, from the Mexican border to just below Canada, in a desperate attempt to regain her footing. With no hiking experience, too-small boots and a too-large backpack (she dubs it Monster), she soloed for three months, encountering rattlers and battling her terror of bears and mountain lions by singing ‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.’ Strayed persevered through punishing loneliness, coping by digging deeper into her own psyche. . . . With grace, wild humor and transcendent insights, she describes her dawning awareness that hiking was making the pain in her life ‘the tiniest bit less hard,’ and as she begins to heal, she also discovers just how strong she really is. Strayed’s language is so vivid, sharp and compelling that you feel the heat of the desert, the frigid ice of the High Sierra and the breathtaking power of one remarkable woman finding her way—and herself—one brave step at a time. Four stars. Caroline Leavitt, People
  • [A] poignant, no-holds barred, kick-ass memoir that will grab you by the throat and shake you to your core. . . . Strayed seamlessly weaves events on the trail with memories, good and bad, that explain why this hike had to be. And so it goes, for 1,100 miles and three arduous months—through injuries, hunger, thirst, strangers met, kindnesses shown, ice and snow, some hilarity, much suffering, almost quitting and much learning. . . . this powerful and raw, deeply felt, often humorous, and beautifully written memoir turns hiking into an act of redemption and salvation. Shelf Awareness 
     
  • Strayed has enjoyed acclaim as an extraordinary essayist for 15 years. . . . Wild tells how, when she was 22 with her life in disarray, she impulsively decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone, from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon. The idea was that it might help her put things back together. Like the Adrienne Rich poem ‘Power’ that bolsters Strayed after the trail nearly breaks her on her first day out, Strayed has power in reserve. It used to take her younger self by surprise—like so many of her encounters and revelations along the trail. Strayed reclaimed herself with she claimed that power on the Pacific Crest Trail. Today, she owns it, and she knows how to use it. We’re feeling it now. Brian Juenemann, The Register-Guard 
  • Ardent. . . it is voice—fierce, billowing with energy, precise—that carries Wild. By turns both devastating and glorious, Strayed uses it to narrate her progress and setbacks on the trail and within herself, occasionally flashing back to fill in the events that brought her to this desperate traverse. . . . By laying bare a great unspoken truth of adulthood—that many things in life don’t turn out the way you want them to, and that you can and must live through them anyway—Wild feels real in ways that many books about ‘finding oneself’ do not. The hike, rewarding though it is, doesn’t heal Strayed. . . . Strayed waited close to 20 years to publish her story, and it shows. Though many of the things that happen to her are extreme—at one point she hikes in boots made entirely of duct tape—she never writes from a place of desperation in the kind of semi-edited purge state that has marred so many true stories in recent years. Such fine control over so many unfathomable, enormous experiences was no doubt hard-won. When she  finally reaches her destination, she’s completed her hike, but her mother is still dead, her marriage is still over, her family and home still lost forever. She spends $1.80 of her last $2 on an ice cream cone. The ice cream is wonderful, but it’s not the answer to anything, and she knows it. . . . Strayed is someone you want to listen to as she walks on. What she offers up are many, many new questions far more valuable than any platitudes about self-discovery, and it’s in these that the heart of her story lies. Melanie Rehak, Slate 
  • Cheryl Strayed was a novice hiker when she decided to embark on a solo trek along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), a scenic footpath that zigzags over the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountains for 2,650 miles between Mexico and Canada. Her poetic memoir Wild opens with the impetus for her journey: the sudden death of her mother just 49 days after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Despondent an disoriented in the wake of her loss, Strayed self-destructs. . . . Not sure what she is in search of, she sets off for the PCT with a guidebook, a collection of poems and an ice ax she doesn’t yet know how to use. During the harrowing three-month journey that ensues, she starts to make sense of her loss . . . In this compelling chronicle, she does just that, meeting kindhearted fellow travelers along the way as well as two terrifying hunters, several rattlesnakes, a bull and, in the end, someone she can finally begin to admire: herself. Liz Welch, More
  • Raw, heartbreaking, humorous, ‘Wild’ is an apt title in many ways—evoking not just the pristine rugged-ness of [Strayed’s] 1,100-mile hike from the Mojave Desert in California to the Columbia River on Oregon’s northern edge, but also the untamed emotional landscape that Strayed is desperately trying to escape. In flashbacks along the trail, she relives the jagged memories she is fighting to outrun: abuse, adultery, and the death of her mother—a loss that left her so grief-stricken she once broke down and ate her mother’s cremated remains. . . . If the emotional baggage isn’t enough, there is the actual bag Strayed struggles to carry: a ridiculously enormous backpack so overloaded with nonessentials she dubs it ‘Monster’ and can hoist it only by finding ways to get her legs underneath it. Such bursts of levity come just often enough to blunt Wild’s darkest moments. Wild succeeds in reminding us that there’s always something to be learned from anyone who, however lost, keeps putting one foot in front of the other. Brian Barker, Portland Monthly Magazine
  • Strayed recounts her experience hiking the PCT after her mother’s death and her own subsequent divorce. . . . She takes readers with her on the trail, and the transformation she experiences on its course is significant: she goes from feeling out of her element with a too-big backpack and too-small boots to finding a sense of home in the wilderness and with the allies she meets along the way. Readers will appreciate her vivid descriptions of the natural wonders. Karen McCoy, Library Journal 
  • Shattered by the death of her mother and the breakup of her marriage in her mid-twenties, Strayed attempted to hike 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail alone as a way to piece herself back together after so much loss. . . . The portrait of her mother, a free spirit once married to an abusive man, is heartbreaking. As are her accounts of the extraordinary bonds that sprung up among hikers sharing provisions and offering help. Whole Living 
  • At 26, Cheryl Strayed realized she was lost. Divorced, still reeling from the sudden death of her mother, she made the radical decision to hike 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail—from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington state—by herself. Her account of that journey is one of the most thrilling memoirs in years.  Why is Wild such a standout? For starters, there’s the tale’s sheer ballsiness: Strayed was an inexperienced hiker when she set out alone, unsure of how to read a compass.  When she lost her boots, she wrapped duct tape around her feet and kept hiking. It’s fascinating to imagine  Strayed taking on black bears and rattlesnakes and impassable snowfall (to say nothing of sexy, dark-haired guitar players and lecherous rednecks with knives). But more impressive is Strayed’s writing. Wild will undoubtedly be compared to Krakauer’s Into the Wild, but unlike its tragic cousin, Wild is not about an idealistic young person trying to escape the world. It’s about an idealistic young person learning to live within in. Reading Wild, you think: Here is a woman speaking in her own voice about trying to heal her soul—by getting her ass kicked in the woods. . . Clear, honest, and quietly riveting. Kimberly Cutter, Marie Claire 
  • After the untimely death of her beloved mother from cancer, Cheryl Strayed, 22 at the time, was left with an all-encompassing grief and a disintegrating marriage. Directionless and searching, an impromptu decision set her compass north. North from the Mojave Desert through California, north across Oregon, and north still through Washington state across the vast, beautiful, and unforgiving stretches of the Pacific Crest Trail. Having never gone backpacking before, Strayed embarked on an 1,100-mile, three-month solo hike that tested both her physical and mental endurance, and ultimately restored her sense of self. A deeply honest memoir about mother and daughter, solitude and courage, and regaining footing one step at a time. Antonina Jedrzejczak, Vogue 
  • “Spectacular…A literary and human triumph.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Incisive and telling…[Strayed] has the ineffable gift every writer longs for of saying exactly what she means in lines that are both succinct and poetic…An inborn talent for articulating angst and the gratefulness that comes when we overcome it.”

    Washington Post

  • “I was on the edge of my seat…It is just a wild ride of a read…Stimulating, thought-provoking, soul-enhancing.”

    Oprah Winfrey

  • “Strayed’s language is so vivid, sharp, and compelling that you feel the heat of the desert, the frigid ice of the High Sierra, and the breathtaking power of one remarkable woman finding her way—and herself—one brave step at a time.”

    People (4 stars)

  • “An addictive, gorgeous book that not only entertains, but leaves us the better for having read it…Strayed is a formidable talent.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Cinematic…A rich, riveting story.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Brave seems like the right word to sum up this woman and her book…Strayed’s journey is exceptional.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Devastating and glorious…By laying bare a great unspoken truth of adulthood—that many things in life don’t turn out the way you want them to, and that you can and must live through them anyway—Wild feels real in many ways that many books about ‘finding oneself’…do not.”

    Slate

  • “A deeply honest memoir about mother and daughter, solitude and courage, and regaining footing one step at a time.”

    Vogue

  • “Vivid, touching, and ultimately inspiring account of a life unraveling and of the journey that put it back together.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “Strayed…catalogs her epic hike…with a raw emotional power that makes the book difficult to put down…In walking, and finally, years later, in writing, Strayed finds her way again. And her path is as dazzlingly beautiful as it is tragic.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “A fearless story, told in honest prose that is wildly lyrical as often as it is dirtily physical.”

    Minneapolis Star-Tribune

  • “This isn’t Cinderella in hiking boots, it’s a woman coming out of heartbreak, darkness, and bad decisions with a clear view of where she has been…There are adventures and characters aplenty, from heartwarming to dangerous, but Strayed resists the temptation to overplay or sweeten such moments. Her pacing is impeccable as she captures her impressive journey.”

    Seattle Times

  • “Strayed’s journey was at least as transcendent as it was turbulent. She faced down hunger, thirst, injury, fatigue, boredom, loss, bad weather, and wild animals. Yet she also reached new levels of joy, accomplishment, courage, peace, and found extraordinary companionship.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Brilliant…Cheryl Strayed emerges from her grief-stricken journey as a practitioner of a rare and vital vocation. She has become an intrepid cartographer of the human heart.”

    Houston Chronicle

  • “A candid, inspiring narrative of the author's brutal physical and psychological journey through a wilderness of despair to a renewed sense of self.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Winner of the 2012 Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Nonfiction
  • Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books for Nonfiction, 2012
  • Selected for the April 2012 Indie Next List
  • A 2012 Oprah’s Book Club Selection
  • Winner of the 2013 Indies Choice Book Award for Best Adult Nonfiction
  • A 2012 Entertainment Weekly Best Book for Nonfiction
  • An 2012 NPR Best Book
  • A Publishers Weekly bestseller
  • A #1 Los Angeles Times bestseller
  • A Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title”, March 2012
  • Winner of the 2013 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award
  • A #1 New York Times bestseller
  • Oprah Pick for Best Memoirs of a Generation

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 GG | 2/20/2014

    " Really really enjoyed...I wanted to know her afterwards... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jan | 2/14/2014

    " I looked forward to reading this every day until I was finished. Then I was ready to go back and start over to pick up the pieces I missed but it was a 2-week library e-loan. Unlike Eat, Pray, Love, which was interesting but at the end of the day felt self-indulgent, I felt the pain of her experiences and need to push through some physical challenge, stripping away the daily tasks and responsibilities, allowing her to settle her mental turmoil and find some resolution and peace. Despite the 4-star rating, it left me with a 5-star feeling. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carol Wakefield | 2/5/2014

    " A rigorous trek, a great deal of soul searching, described by an author who has learned her craft well. Completely compelling. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Salisbury | 1/31/2014

    " Loved this book. Cheryl Strayed has the heart of a warrior. Facing tough stuff, she started climbing. Over 1,000 miles and 100 days, Strayed didn't walk around it . . . she walked through it. An inspiring story for anyone going through a tough time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth Pescosolido | 1/30/2014

    " As a catastrophe hiker myself, I loved hearing her ups and downs on the trail. Her moxie was impressive and inspiring, an underdog when there was no competition. I went in and out of liking Cheryl, her choices were sometimes very hurtful. I couldn't put it down and there was enough comedy to balance the darker passages. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Collette | 1/16/2014

    " I can't get enough of literature of the trail -- this one is another classic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tina Concha | 1/10/2014

    " Went on a vacation to Phoenix by myself and this was a perfect book for the occasion. Travel reframes ones perspective on life and the books mirrored that experience. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Suzanne | 12/31/2013

    " Loved this memoir of her hike of the PCT. I appreciated the detail of the hike itself, as well as her story. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Nicole Snyder | 12/26/2013

    " felt like eat pray love. She needed closure was able to do stuff and found herself. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patrick T | 12/20/2013

    " A real pager turner makes you cheer for her during her hike to complete! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karen | 12/18/2013

    " I could not recommend this to any of my friends. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mrs. Nannini Crossroads South | 12/9/2013

    " If I had read this book in my younger days, I am sure I would have been tempted to hike the Pacific Coast Trail by myself. The author details her adventurous hike with flashbacks to a life that was fraught with difficulties. Well written memoir of someone who has reinvented herself more than once. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sofia Kirk | 11/6/2013

    " I really enjoyed this story.. honest, inspiring, and quite an adveture! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Maryannkeon | 6/7/2013

    " Beautifully written, heartwarming and almost makes you want to venture on such a quest yourself! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jennifer | 6/1/2013

    " Read this for book club and liked it much more than I expected. It looked to me like another memoir of the genre of woman goes finds herself by doing a crazy things, but it's more than that. This is a gut-wrenching story of grief as much as anything else. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christine | 1/31/2013

    " Her overuse of the word PCT made me want to throttle the closest thing to me. We know that trail you're on. You're a writer sweetie, USE YOUR WORDS, and when that fails, use your thesaurus. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Mira | 12/20/2012

    " I had high expectations for this book, and maybe that's why I found it to be disappointing. There are some funny moments and I liked hearing about daily life and the PCT, but none of the characters were particularly compelling. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danielle | 10/6/2012

    " It made me want to go hiking. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Julie | 8/21/2012

    " Does she ever find the lost hiking boot? Sadly, I don't care. "

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About the Author
Author Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed is the author of Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail and Tiny Beautiful Things. Her stories and essays have been published in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, The Rumpus, the Missouri Review, Best American Essays, and elsewhere.

About the Narrator

Bernadette Dunne is the winner of seventeen AudioFile Earphones Awards and has twice been nominated for the prestigious Audie Award. She studied at the Royal National Theatre in London and the Studio Theater in Washington, DC, and has appeared at the Kennedy Center and off Broadway. She lives in Brooklyn.