The cover says it all: If you’re lost, get a guide and put one foot in front of the other until you’re found. In a sometimes gut-wrenching expose of the challenges of her short life of 24 years, Strayed opens her heart and her life to show how she found her own resurrection. Admittedly unprepared for the adventure, she discovers too quickly how much, measured with every toenail she loses along the way. Very little of what she describes would motivate me to want to pick up a similar challenge, but I found myself envying her courage to face in such a forthright manner her many early mistakes. It made all of her triumphs, not least of which was finishing the trail, that much more meaningful.
There were so many opportunities when Strayed could have embellished her accomplishment that she didn’t take, that I believe it is all true, and I value highly honesty in a memoir. Fortunately the book moves along rapidly; you never feel the tedium that must have accompanied her on many miles of the 1,000 mile trail. That said, the character growth she acquired and portrayed in her writing during that six month period of her life is astounding. I highly recommend this book as a unique variation of “A Walk in the Woods.” It is very difficult to put down, once you’ve started your own journey along with the author.