Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Book Review: Wild by Cheryl Strayed

Assalamualaikum and hi.

Yes! You read it right. I'm doing a book review, 

After months posting tilted cropped photos of books in Instagram, I finally decided to post a book review in my blog. You see, I used to read literature for assignments and I teach language to make living. I should have the courage, but I don't (not enough). Mostly I read for fun, for pastime. Thus my review might be weak, cliche, bias and all the amateur reviewer has to offer, unlike what those gorgeous and amazing people have done in Amazon, or Bookpage. So before I start let me apologize in advance for any inaccuracy, inconvenience and discomfort I will cause later. 

(Warning: Spoilers ahead)

Here goes nothing:

Title: Wild (not 50-shades-of-grey kind of wild)
Author: Cheryl Strayed
Published: 2012, Vintage Books
Category: Autobiography/Non-fiction
Featured; Oprah's Book Club 2.0 (could be one of the reason I bought this)
Price: rm42.79 (tapi bila scan rm44 yang aku malas ni)
Shop: Times, Suria Sabah. (The only place I could found this book)

Strayed, a name she has picked up upon filing her divorce after reflecting her dimming, digressing and wandering life.

The book is about a woman decided to go for along hike in Pacific Crest Trail after pain stricken by her mother's death and inability to keep her family and marriage together. With zero experience in backpacking, she started her healing journey alone.

The book's opening of her honest memoir with her mother is my favourite part. Her dedication and love to her mother awe me in so many ways. How she learned the life of her mother and described her in the best possible way. Her mother portrayed as strong, compassionate, full of life, someone who says "Bye darlings" to the dogs and "Bye house" when leaving her home. Moving on, Cheryl denial about her mother's cancer and witnessing the pain are heartbreaking. I could feel her rushed when she tried to bring her brother to their dying mother and sorrow when she didn't get to say goodbye. Beautiful memoir.

This book isn't a manual or survivor guide for backpacking but she able to give impressive details on her journey. She described everybody's adventure in the most utterly realistic way. What she packed in her heavy bag, trail she took, her feeling, wounds, exhaustion and verge of surrendering. To a point I could feel the constantly-mentioned heavy backpack she's carrying. It has given me a new and solid definition of backpacking. Now don't go and write "to backpack in Europe" in your bucket list if you haven't really learned the real meaning of it. There's a thin line between price-conscious and backpacking. Cheryl wrote her experience on meeting a longhorn bull, eating tasteless healthy food, having to dig a hole for toilet to do the number 2, smelly clothes (the only pair she had for weeks) make me come to a conclusion that I will never survive backpacking (hiking), not without a decent pair of 15 clothes and a gallon of Spritzer Water. I'm going to need a truck following behind to survive. Na..ah.

I was amazed that what I needed to survive could be carried on my back. And, most surprising of all,  that I could carry it. That I could bear the unbearable.
(Wild by Cheryl Strayed)

(Here's the sorry not sorry part) There's a lot of critic on Cheryl's decision on hiking solo saying that it is lousy and reckless. I couldn't deny that that there's a presence of self-absorbed and very whiny-drama-lady in this book. She centered her constant battle with her marriage, inability to resist sleeping with lots of man, doing drugs, towards her mother's death and her being not strong enough to overcome it. Somehow along her story of devastation sounds so whining to me. Her decision to leave everything behind and asking thousand-kilometers-of-solo-hiking to fix it didn't really inspire me.

(Continuing the sorry not sorry) There is one event where the author described when she had to put down her mother's favourite horse, Lady, to sleep. Well, they shot the horse down. Dead. I found it as inhumane, cruel and frustrating. Her so called judgment or reason behind it is just plain stupid. Stupid! Again she reasoned and centered everything around her mother's death which is just not convincing. It was the most upsetting 3 pages I have ever read in my entire life. I wrote a big F*** YOU!!! on top of that page with my black pen. Not sorry. 

This is why I never posted a book review...I get so carried away. Pardon me.

There were a lot of terms in this book. It could be difficult to comprehend if we are not familiar with hiking situation. In the same time there are words of plants, animals and geography aspects. You might stumbled on words such as hiker vernacular, pine needles, monkey flowers and dromedary bag. Plus, I want to highlight two things. Firstly, I noticed that her transitions where she shifts from her memoir to her account in Pacific Crest Trail is a bit vague. Secondly, it is a mix of realistic and too metaphoric in the way she described the panorama such as "I saw only animal tracks-the soft zigzags of rabbits or the scampering triangles of what I supposed were porcupines or raccoon. The air came alive with the sound of the wind whipping the trees at times and at other times it was profoundly hushed by the endless silencing snow". Overall it was easy for a reader with English as a second language to follow and understand. 

I give it 3.5/5 (The kind that i will never re-read). Feel free to borrow from me.

Thank You.


p/s: Marian Rivera got married last week, I'm so heartbroken.

1 comment:


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