You might have already seen the film version of this, starring Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl, on redemptive 1,100 mile hike along the ‘PCT’ (Pacific Crest Trail, for those not in the know). If you have, the book may pad out some more of the background and reasoning behind the hike that personally, I thought was lacking from the film, beautiful though it was.
This book is part memoir, part travelogue, part confessional. Cheryl writes honestly and vividly about her childhood, relationships, marriage breakdown, bereavement and drug addiction that led her to make this epic journey. Her descriptions of the mountains and deserts she hikes through had me ready to take on the PCT myself, though I’m not sure I’d be able to cope with carrying a giant backpack (Cheryl’s is nicknamed ‘monster’ by her fellow hikers!) and the resultant aches and pains and cuts and scars…
I’m hesitant to say that I loved this book; I certainly enjoyed it and would recommend it but Cheryl herself came across as maybe, dare I say it, annoying? By the end I wanted her to have some huge revelation and go and live an exciting, inspirational life, but instead she just…carried on with her life. There’s a lesson in there I’m sure.
A good 7.5/10