Posted February 1, 2015 in Resilience, Self-Insight, What We're Reading

By: Cheryl Strayed

Review by: Julie Melaschenko

The Premise: A series of life crises following the death of her beloved mother leads author Cheryl Strayed to embark on a thousand-mile journey of self-discovery on the Pacific Crest Trail. At times sad, and at others triumphant, this gripping autobiographical page-turner is more than just the story of a hike, it is a journal of the reinvention of a woman with great potential. Her honesty and raw depiction of the physical and emotional trials she overcomes are matched by her unwavering belief that she can do it. Along the way she shares the trail and it’s culture with a few wanderers, some random locals and the occasional critter, but mostly she is alone.

The Bottom-line: At one time or another, we have all been Cheryl. Personally or professionally, we have all faced a trial or two that have shaken us, made us question ourselves and our place. This is why Cheryl is so instantly likeable and relatable. She isn’t a superhero, she is real. I wondered if I would find the book interesting. Three months of hiking would surely run out of things to talk about – as anyone who has attempted even a day hike can attest – there are large stretches of complete boredom. Well, I devoured this book in one weekend, the last half of it in one sitting. It’s no surprise it translated into an Oscar-nominated role for the star of the movie adaptation. How does one small, untrained, minimally prepared person tackle a challenge of such proportions and not completely give up at any point? Threats of bears, lack of clean water, extreme weather and physical limitations would send even the most experienced hikers off to catch the next ride to civilization. But not Cheryl. She sticks it out, and takes us along for the ride. We are brought along on her journey. We are lost with her, and in the end, found and completely inspired. The underlying message is universal. At work, at home, in relationships, in self-discovery, we can all find our ‘trail’ and stick with it.

Roundtable Rating: excellent read for the upcoming March Break – as you recharge your batteries on your vacation or staycation.

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