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Such as if a doctor told you that you were going to die soon, youd be taken to a room with a gleaming wooden desk. We were led into an examining room, where a nurse instructed my mother to remove her shirt and put on a cotton smock with strings that dangled at her sides. Id fainted oncefurious, age three, holding my breath because I didnt want to get out of the bathtub, too young to remember it myself. Shed held out her hands and watched me turn blue, my mother had always told me. She held it stiffly with the other hand, trying to calm it. She wore a purple hat and a handful of diamond rings. She spoke in Spanish to the people gathered around her, her family and perhaps her husband. If I looked at him we would both crumble like dry crackers. Paper roses, paper roses, oh how real those roses seemed to be, she sang. Look both ways, shed call after us as we fled like a pack of hungry dogs.
All that day of the green pantsuit, as I accompanied my mother and stepfather, Eddie, from floor to floor of the Mayo Clinic while my mother went from one test to another, a prayer marched through my head, though prayer is not the right word to describe that march. I couldnt let myself believe it then and there in that elevator and also go on breathing, so I let myself believe other things instead. Id asked my mother all through my childhood, making her tell me the story again and again, amazed and delighted by my own impetuous will. She sat with her hands folded tightly together and her ankles hooked one to the other. In reply, he took a pencil, stood it upright on the edge of the sink, and tapped it hard on the surface. One jolt and your bones could crumble like a dry cracker. Later we came out to wash our hands and faces, watching each other in the bright mirror. I sat between my mother and Eddie in my green pantsuit, the green bow miraculously still in my hair. There was a woman who had an arm that swung wildly from the elbow. There was a beautiful dark-haired woman who sat in a wheelchair. Eddie sat on my other side, but I could not look at him. A song without words, but my mother knew the words anyway and instead of answering my question she sang them softly to me. My mothers name was called then: her prescriptions were ready. They would give us five-dollar bills to buy candy from the store so they could be alone in the apartment with our mom.
THE TEN THOUSAND THINGS My solo three-month hike on the Pacific Crest Trail had many beginnings. Trays and boxes that had been cracked or clipped or misaligned in the machine.
Chelsea Cain, author of The Night Season and Heartsick "A candid, inspiring narrative of the authors brutal physical and psychological journey through a wilderness of despair to a renewed sense of self," Kirkus Reviews, starred review (12/19/2011). She worked the day shift at a factory that manufactured plastic containers capable of holding highly corrosive chemicals and brought the rejects home.
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#1 New York Times Bestseller A Best Nonfiction Book of 2012: The Boston Globe, Entertainment Weekly A Best Book of the Year: NPR, St. A breathtaking adventure tale and a profound meditation on the nature of grief and survival . Waking or sleeping that summer, we were scarcely out of one anothers sight and seldom saw anyone else.
Louis Dispatch, Vogue Winner of the Barnes & Noble Discover Award Now a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. We were twenty miles away from two small towns in opposite directions: Moose Lake to the east; Mc Gregor to the northwest. We played it while planting and maintaining a garden that would sustain us through the winter in soil that had been left to its own devices throughout millennia, and while making steady progress on the con- struction of the house we were building on the other side of our property and hoped to complete by summers end.
I could see her naked back, the small curve of flesh beneath her waist. He explained that they would not attempt to cure her, that she was incurable. They could try to ease the pain in her back with radiation, he offered. The winter after my mother married him, Eddie fell off a roof on the job and broke his back. Our forty acres were a perfect square of trees and bushes and weedy grasses, swampy ponds and bogs clotted with cattails.
People (4 stars) An addictive, gorgeous book that not only entertains, but leaves us the better for having read it. Hope Edelman, author of The Possibility of Everything and Motherless Daughters Smart, funny, and often sublime, Wild has something for everyonea fight for survival in the wilderness, a bad girls quest for redemptionall in the hands of a brilliant and evocative writer. By then we lived in a small town an hour outside of Minneapolis in a series of apartment complexes with deceptively upscale names: Mill Pond and Barbary Knoll, Tree Loft and Lake Grace Manor. She waited tables at a place called the Norseman and then a place called Infinity, where her uniform was a black T-shirt that said go for it in rainbow glitter across her chest.
Garth Stein, author of The Art of Racing in the Rain Strayeds language is so vivid, sharp, and compelling that you feel the heat of the desert, the frigid ice of the High Sierra and the breathtaking power of one remarkable woman finding her wayand herselfone brave step at a time. In Wild, she describes her journey from despair to transcendence with honesty, humor, and heart-cracking poignancy. Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia and Seeking Peace Cheryl Strayed is one of the most exciting writers Ive come across in a long time. She was alone, with Karen Cheryl Leif riding shotgun in her car.
The cumulative welling up I experienced during Wild was partly a response to that too infrequent sight: that of a writer finding her voice, and sustaining it, right in front of your eyes. At which point, at long last, there was the actual doing it, quickly followed by the grim realization of what it meant to do it, followed by the decision to quit doing it because doing it was absurd and pointless and ridiculously difficult and far more than I expected doing it would be and I was profoundly unprepared to do it. The exhaustion and the deprivation; the cold and the heat; the monotony and the pain; the thirst and the hunger; the glory and the ghosts that haunted me as I hikedbeleven hundred miles from the Mojave Desert to the state of Washington by myself. Shed planted marigolds around her garden to keep bugs away instead of using pesticides. As the elevator car lifted, my mother reached out to tug at my pants, rubbing the green cotton between her fingers proprietarily. I was twenty-two, the same age she was when shed been pregnant with me. She whispered it and hollered it, hissed it and crooned it. We played tag and red light green light and charades by the apartment mail- boxes that you could open only with a key, waiting for checks to arrive. She loved us more than all the named things in the world.
Strayed hammers home her hard-won sentences like a box of nails. There was the driving across the country from Minneapolis to Portland, Oregon, and, a few days later, catching a flight to Los Angeles and a ride to the town of Mojave and another ride to the place where the PCT crossed a highway. In spite of the bears and the rattlesnakes and the scat of the mountain lions I never saw; the blisters and scabs and scrapes and lacerations. For a good number of years shed mostly been a vegetarian. We were finally on our way up to see the last doctor. The one who would gather everything that had been gathered about my mom and tell us what was true. Our names blurred into one in my mothers mouth all my life. We received government cheese and powdered milk, food stamps and medical assistance cards, and free presents from do-gooders at Christmastime. She would mix food coloring into sugar water and pretend with us that it was a special drink. She would spread her arms wide and ask us how much and there would never be an end to the game.
By laying bare a great unspoken truth of adulthoodthat many things in life dont turn out the way you want them to, and that you can and must live through them anyway Wild feels real in many ways that many books about finding oneself do not. Strayed is a courageous, gritty, and deceptively elegant writer. Wall Street Journal Wild is the kind of candid vision quest-like memoir that you dont come across often. Then I considered the source: Cheryl Strayed, the author of a lyric yet tough-minded first novel [called] Torcha Great Lakes Book Award finalist . Shattered at 26 by her mothers death, her familys fragmenting, and the end of her marriage, Strayed upped and decided to do something way out of the realm of her experience; here she confronts snowstorms and rattlesnakes even as she confronts her personal pain. Barbara Hoffert, Library No one can write like Cheryl Strayed.