Finding it so late was common, when it came to lung cancer. Together we repeatedly walked the perimeter of our land in those first months as landowners, pushing our way through the wilderness on the two sides that didnt border the road, as if to walk it would seal it off from the rest of the world, make it ours. Trees that had once looked like any other to me became as recognizable as the faces of old friends in a crowd, their branches gesturing with sudden meaning, their leaves beckoning like identifiable hands.
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.
I wasnt crazy about the green pantsuit, but I wore it anyway, as a penance, as an offering, as a talisman. I pushed the fact of it away with everything in me. I could feel my mothers weight leaning against the door, her hands slapping slowly against it, causing the entire frame of the bath- room stalls to shake. There was a song coming over the waiting room speakers. She dated men with names like Killer and Doobie and Motorcycle Dan and one guy named Victor who liked to downhill ski.
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.
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.
Youll thank me for this someday, my mother always said when my siblings and I complained about all the things we no longer had.
Wed never lived in luxury or even like those in the middle class, but we had lived among the comforts of the modern age.
With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington Stateand she would do it alone. In the evenings, we would make a game of counting the bites on our bodies by candlelight.
Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her. The numbers would be seventy-nine, eighty-six, one hundred and three.
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.
Each time she moved, the room was on fire with the paper ripping and crinkling beneath her. I was staring at it when the real doctor came into the room and said my mother would be lucky if she lived a year. About my husband, Paul, and about my mothers parents and sister, who lived a thousand miles away. We left the apartment complexes with fancy names and moved with him into a rented ramshackle farmhouse that had a dirt floor in the basement and four different colors of paint on the outside.
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.