When I told you guys I would have something special for you on Christmas I bet you weren’t expecting a nonfiction review! I don’t read nonfiction for pleasure, ever. I barely read poetry for pleasure. Yet I was able to finish this book in a matter of days (partially because I planned to give it away as a gift and if I didn’t finish it, I wouldn’t be able to until I got a copy from the library).
Title: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Page #: 315
Genre: Memoir, Nonfiction
Director: Jean-Marc Vallee
Writer: Nick Horny, Cheryl Strayed
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Gaby Hoffmann
Length: 1hr 55min
Now I’m going to admit to a little bit of a sin here, I watched the movie before I read the book. DON’T GET MAD! It was a good film. I went with my best friend over the summer to see the film. The only thing we knew about it going in was that it starred Reese Witherspoon. We hadn’t seen any trailers, but we had either already seen or weren’t interested in anything else in the theater so we thought we would give it a try. For a film comprised mostly of one woman walking it was fantastic. We both really loved it and felt incredibly motivated by it. I know for a fact that I would not have picked up this book if I hadn’t watched the film, so there are a few exceptions to the rule.
Having just said all of that, I’m going to talk about the book first.
I read the book in about three days. Despite the fact that it was nonfiction. Despite the fact that most of those pages are a block of small text continuously justified on the page. There were definitely times where I felt I wouldn’t be able to finish it but in all honestly I breezed through it. I think this is mostly due to how Cheryl Strayed structured this memoir. It reads like a novel. It was written like a novel. The only thing keeping it from being a novel, is the fact that its the truth, that she really did it, and everything within it is real.
I think part of what helped with that was the way that she wove together her hikes with scenes from the past. Normal memoirs would be written chronologically, one event following another, this memoir was written so that memories came up as they became pertinent. There was a certain amount of linearity, don’t get me wrong, but over all it was really well woven. It just goes to show her care in the craft.
The story itself was incredibly uplifting, especially for me right now. I have just finished college, I feel like I am completely lost in the deep end of life, not sure what my next move should be, and seeing the effects that had on her, and her thought process to get herself out of it was incredibly helpful to me. You see her in the lowest point of her life, and watch her make her way out of it. You learn the lessons she did, without all of the blisters and lost toenails. I for one, would never be able to do what she did, too much of a sissy baby, but I commend her for it, and I’m glad I can live vicariously through her, at least for the length of the book.
I think this is an expertly crafted memoir that anyone could read. I mean there is a reason it was a best seller. Even if you don’t normally read nonfiction, or even have an interest in the outdoors and hiking, I would recommend reading this book because the lessons it holds are important for anyone, young or old, lost or found.
Now as far as the movie is concerned. Like I said earlier, I really enjoyed it. I went into it knowing next to nothing and came out pleasantly surprised. My friend even took the poster they had for it home with her to hang on her wall. She made talk of us hiking the trail (which I quickly removed myself from because Tiny Gingers do not survive well in the outdoors. The sun itself is out enemy). It was her gift that I was reading, because she definitely fell in love with the story more than I did.
I wondered if the woven structure of the movie was made for the film but it was lifted pretty seamlessly from the book. I think that the book translated incredibly well to film. There were only a few minor changes for brevity and impact. Other than that, the two were almost identical. Even down to some of the lines being word for word from the book.
Again, for a film that contains mostly just Reese Witherspoon walking it is incredibly engaging. You care about her, and making sure she gets where she needs to be. It has the perfect amount of drama, comedy, and suspense (at least if you haven’t read the book). I feel like if you don’t think you can sit through the whole memoir, the film is a good way to get everything from it. I feel like the book had more emotional impact on me personally, but it has all of the beats of the book in a more concise time frame. Both were incredibly well made, in my opinion, and worth your time.
Well, I hope you guys had a great Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate. I hope your new year is a healthy one and filled with many books. I got a couple for Christmas so I will be sure to have a haul up for you guys soon, I might even do a video version with Gretchen for Betwixt the Books.