Book Review: Why I Couldn’t Make It Through Three Chapters of Wild

With marathon training picking up again, I decided to put my book group on hold. It was becoming a bit too much to be the organizer and host, but I really dig chopping it up about books, so I joined an all-female Meetup book group near my home. I was totally looking forward to attending my first meeting later this month and discussing Wild by Cheryl Strayed.

 Y'all lied to me, New York Times.
Y’all lied to me, New York Times.

Even though I probably wouldn’t have picked up Wild myself, the story interested me, and I like reading some of that type of genre. Meaning, I like running books and enjoyed Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. I certainly didn’t expect a literary masterpiece…but holy hell.

In three “I” words: indulgent, improbable, insufferable.

Here is my review of the first two chapters and one paragraph, because seriously, Unfinishable!

First of all, Strayed is terribly unlikeable. I’ve read that some women view her as a heroine, someone who dug deep to find herself and her untapped strength, blah blah blah. I found her wholly enchanted by her own Specialness. Yes, there are some unique circumstances that she was raised in, like living in a log cabin for a few of her childhood years. However, the first two chapters of her navel-gazing seemed self-serving, like a prelude to her explanation for her bad behavior. Look at my weird upbringing! She eventually gets to the real cause, though, for her serial infidelity: her mother died of cancer. Excuse me!?! Many people have lost a loved one to cancer, and they don’t screw the cook at the restaurant they’re working at while they’re married. Grr.

This is why I cheated on my husband - Exhibit A.
This is why I cheated on my husband – Exhibit A.

Even with Strayed being an unsympathetic character, I was willing to plod on. Hoping if at least she remained unlikeable, the story would be good enough to carry me through to the end. Then I got to these four sentences.

The final straw.

See, there were indications of this shit writing earlier, but this? This sent me over the edge. The fucking petal metaphor. Really? No…really?

I would have said it was a waste of one hour, but my friend noted that sometimes it takes us reading the bad to appreciate the good, and she’s right. I had pretty much liked everything I’d read recently and wondered if not hosting my book group had caused me to lose my critical eye and left me with a lack of discernment. But no. So I guess “Thank you, Cheryl Strayed”? I know this review sounds harsh, especially as I realize many people found her story inspiring; however, I’m not nearly half as critical as this blogger who has devoted an entire blog to Wild entitled “I Hate Cheryl Strayed.” Each entry breaks down a chapter from the book, and not only critiques the writing, but the improbability of Strayed’s claims — even down to how heavy her backpack really was.

Anyway, I thought about finishing Wild as a hate read, but as noted in this post, there are like twenty-something other books I want to read this year, so I will be moving on. I also toyed with the idea of showing up to the book club meeting anyway, but perhaps my group debut should be less hostile. I really am trying to make more women friends, after all.

I’d love to end this review with a cutting pun using “Wild” and “Strayed,” but I just want to put this wildermess behind me. (Ha!)

P.S. My friend called the movie “hateful,” so I’ll be passing on that too.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Why I Couldn’t Make It Through Three Chapters of Wild

    1. Maybe? It is a bestseller and a book club favorite, so…I personally found the blog about it more entertaining. Haha

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