I had this book on my Kindle for a couple of months before the film came out, then decided I’d better read it before I watched the film (I hate to watch films before I’ve read the book). I couldn’t avoid the hype though, so had huge expectations.
I’m not entirely sure those expectations were realised. There are undoubtedly places where this is a very good read, and Strayed was incredibly brave (if a little naive) to walk the Pacific Crest Trail alone as she did. There are moments of real emotion and tension; I related so much to the way Strayed felt when her mother died – the way this was depicted was incredibly realistic and emotional for me. I could imagine her pain too, when her boots hurt her feet, when she ran out of water, when she felt threatened and vulnerable alone on the trail. And Strayed writes with an honesty that some may find difficult – she certainly has elements to her character that aren’t easy to like. At times she comes across as selfish and self-indulgent but she doesn’t shirk from that. The way she treats her ex-husband is dreadful, and many readers will find one particular scene, involving the death of a horse, incredibly upsetting and disturbing.
For me at least, there was something lacking in this book. After a while, as I’m sure the walking did for Strayed, it all became rather monotonous. The writing lacks the emotional depth and insight that I was expecting and I found myself skipping forward as Strayed hiked further along the trail. And like Strayed, I was counting the miles to the end so I could stop reading.
All in all I was left feeling slightly disappointed. Still haven’t seen the film.
Find a copy here