Book title: Wild
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Date of discussion: 26 April 2015
Venue: Zest Cafe & Restaurant, Bangsar South
Average rating: 7/10
I originally wrote this summary of a book discussion on the book ‘Wild’ for members of KL Book Appreciation Club, published in the group on April 28, 2015.
Since the majority of us have finished the book, we all took turns to rate the memoir and everyone talked about what they liked and could / could not relate to in Cheryl Strayed’s writing. We also tackled some discussion questions from Oprah’s Reading Guide.
With an average rating of 7/10, the general conclusion was that most of us liked the book enough and some found it inspirational. Half of the group seldom read memoirs, so Wild was not the type of book they would ordinarily pick up, but it wasn’t exactly a pain to finish.
Everyone agreed that Cheryl Strayed was really messed up at the start of her journey, reckless and took some huge risks by going on the Pacific Crest Trail unprepared (physically), lost (emotionally) and alone (as a woman hiker). However, the trip was an opportunity for her to have some alone time for introspection, to complete grieving for her mother and her divorce, and figure out how to move forward in her life. The trip was a sort of a spiritual cleanse for the author.
Some of us gravitated towards her strength of character which helped her endure the physical pain and suffering the hike accorded her, and face up to the extreme weather changes as well as dangers of the trail (from animals and humans alike). Others among us found that they didn’t quite enjoy the emotional parts of the book when Cheryl flashed back and spoke about her childhood experiences.
Along the way, Cheryl also wrote beautiful descriptions about nature which makes you want to be on the trail just to see them (the mountains, the trees, the rivers and the lakes). Unsurprisingly, most of us admitted we would not go on such a journey. A small number said they might go on a similar excursion if there were no ties holding them back as they have done outdoorsy stuff like this before.
Because the book dealt with Cheryl’s relationship with her mum, and her death from cancer at 42, a handful among us connected to the grief one would feel when they lost a close family member. Some deep reflections also surfaced — appreciation of their mum’s presence in their lives, despite the issues one would face in the relationship.
For me, personally, I think the book gave us food for thought. About how it must feel to be truly wild. To have nothing to hold you back from what you wanted to do. To take on alone (and fully) the consequences of our actions, no matter what you decide.
I loved the book discussion and I was humbled to have the opportunity to lead it, thank you.
Indeed, in Cheryl’s words, “How wild it was, to let it be.”