Girl in the Woods

Book: Wild

From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Author: Cheryl Strayed

Publisher: Knopf

Price: Rs 1161 (Flipkart)

Pages: 315

What do you do once the worst has happened? Where do you go once "home" has become a concept and "family" a memory? How do you move forward once you've been obliterated? If you are Cheryl Strayed, you make those wounds your purpose. In Wild, Strayed recounts her 1,100 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Mojave (in California) to Bridge of the Gods (Washington state) at the age of 26. During the course of the journey a broken spirit comes to accept immeasurable loss in a wilderness that "shelters and shatters".

The book explores "aloneness" as it oozes into our skull and pounds at our chest. It is the crippling isolation of a child who loses a parent. It is the solitude of a hiker when only the clicking of one's ski pole and the rustle of leaves accompany you for weeks. It is an independence born from naivety and courage. This memoir has reigned over the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list, stoked Oprah Winfrey to start her Book Club 2.0 and prodded Reese Witherspoon to buy its movie rights. And with reason it foregrounds human fortitude against cinematic vistas in a filmi narrative.

In the solo three-month hike Strayed, the novice hiker, overcomes dehydration, exhaustion, hunger, faces down grizzlies and steps over rattle snakes. Her shoes gnaw at her feet, she fashions sandals from duct tape and slippers, she loses six toenails. Her hips and lower back chaff into sheaths of dead skin, her legs strengthen into boulders. But hers is not the odyssey of an adventurer seeking to conquer new frontiers, or a hermit discarding urbane life, instead it is a tale of persistence born from circumstance. Readers will cheer on the hiker, hoping that the path gets less steep, that water will be found, at the next corner, that luck will, finally, acknowledge her.

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