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Wild: Chapters 5-6

Welcome to the comments and discussion of the Young Adult Cancer Book Club!  We are reading Wild, by Cheryl Strayed.  Read our participants’ reactions and follow along with us each week as we read through the book!  (Caution! Spoilers below!)

Week 3: Chapters 5-6, pages 61-101

By Sarah H.

In chapters 5 and 6 we see Cheryl break a bit in her confidence during her hike. She encounters new terrain, realizes she puts a wrong fuel in her portable stove, encounters a bull, and starts to doubt herself. She ends up going into town for a few nights with a mine worker she found just off the trail to fix her stove.

Just as she’s decided not to make it to her first stop in Kennedy Meadows and head to Alaska, she meets another hiker named Greg. He talked about his experience on the trail and how he started off slow and felt unprepared as well but feels more confident now. When she ran in to a father-son duo who had started behind her as well and stated they ran into two other fellas were behind them there was a bit of a turning point in her determination. She decided to not only continue the trail but also make sure the other 2 duo wouldn’t catch up to her.

The end of the chapter 6 we learn a bit about her divorce and find out her last name was one she chose after her divorce-its neither her married nor maiden name. It was nice to see how her and Paul were with each other through it, especially after what she had done in their marriage but I feel it didn’t add to much to the story line at this point. We’ll see how relevant it becomes later on.

I think these chapters got me frustrated with her in how quick she seemed to want to throw in the towel after being so determined in the beginning. I get she underestimated the challenges of the trail but it seemed after one blip, there was such a dramatic change of heart that I just wanted to shake her! However, once her determination came back and I like how she realized different things can qualify as the hardest thing you’ve ever done. However, in doing those hard things, it makes some of the “hardest” things easier. She could feel the change, “I could feel it unspooling behind me-the old thread I’d lost, the new one I was spinning”.

By Ashley L.

I have previously read this book before and absolutely loved it. This book is one of the very few that I wanted to reread. In chapter 5, Cheryl is experiencing the reality of actually hiking the Pacific Crest Trail; a tired and sore body, bloody blisters, a wild animal encounter, and the silence of being in nature alone. In between bouts of suffering, she starts to admire the beautiful landscape around her, and she seems to feel a sense of accomplishment for doing all of this by herself. This experience is shaping up to be very eye-opening. There is no quick fix to hide from your problems in the wild; when faced with a challenge, there is no choice but to face it and move forward.

In chapter 6, the weather turned scorching hot, and thoughts of quitting were prominent in her mind. It seems thus far, that the days on the hike have been a sort of distraction from her problems of before; her thoughts were consumed by her aching body and sometimes parts of songs she’s heard in the past. She meets another hiker and at first feels bad about her lack of preparedness, but eventually feels comfort in his presence and the fact that he understands the struggles of hiking the PCT. After that chance meeting her spirit was renewed, and the thought of quitting was no longer on the table. She even asks herself out loud, “Who is Tougher Than Me?” At the end of the chapter, Cheryl relives the time around her divorce, and we come to understand where the name Cheryl Strayed came from.

I think setting out on an adventure like this is amazing and I would like to do something similar. Being in nature can be very healing for many people. I liken some of what she goes through to some of what cancer patients/survivors go through both in treatment and after treatment; the physical and mental pain, having no choice but to get through each day focused on a second at a time, not knowing when the suffering will end, but always trying to keep moving forward to reach my goal of becoming a better person.

We’ll talk about a few chapters each week until the book is done. Join in the comments every week!  Also, there will probably be spoilers, so read along with us!

Once we finish the book, we’ll have an online book club discussion on Zoom to talk about general feelings from the book and anything else you’d like to discuss on Monday, May 23rd.

Excited about the next book club?  Have any suggestions for future reads?  Let us know by emailing!