"I spent my life folded between the pages of books." -Tahereh Mafi

Some of my reviews are normal non-spoilery reviews. But some of reviews contain lots and lots of spoilers to help you (and me!) remember what happened when the next book in the series finally comes out. Both review types are clearly marked.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

This review is spoiler free!!

My rating: 4/5 stars

I liked this a lot more than I expected to - I normally don't read nonfiction for fun, but this read a lot like fiction. As a backpacker, I alternately laughed and cringed at how poorly prepared she was. 
What is hiking but walking, after all? I can walk! I'd argued when Paul had expressed his concern about my never actually having gone backpacking. I walked all the time. I walked for hours on end in my work as a waitress. I walked around the cities I lived in and visited. I walked for pleasure and purpose. All of these things were true. But after about fifteen minutes of walking on the PCT, it was clear that I had never walked into desert mountains in early June with a pack that weighed significantly more than half of what I did strapped onto my back.
As a waitress and a hiker, I can definitively say that hiking and walking at work are not the same thing! As I'm preparing for a 230 mile trip in the Spring, I keep telling myself that if this idiot could do 19 mile days, then I can too!

Lots of people don't like this book because the author did some awful things in her life - she cheated on her husband and used drugs. But I totally identified with her. I lost my mom at 29 and did some awful things as I worked through my grief. Luckily, I wasn't quite as horrible as her, but I understand how grief can make you self-destructive. But I also understand not liking a book because you don't like the main character - there's lots of books I don't like for that reason! But if you'e ever dealt with major grief, I think you'll get this book. This book is less about the trail and more about her finally working through her grief in a more productive way. 

Falling into Place by Amy Zhang

This review is spoiler free!!!

My rating: 4/5 stars

Liz Emerson is an awful person. She's a bully. She bosses her friends around. She destroys people's lives just because she can. But the thing about Liz is that she knows she's an awful person and she hates herself for it. She hates herself so much that she attempts to kill herself. At first, I had a hard time caring if she died because she's so awful. But the further we got into her story, the more I identified with her. I'm not nearly as awful as Liz, but I've done bad things to people I care about and hated myself deeply afterward. So I was able to slightly understand Liz and empathize with her. She's not the kind of main character that you'll ever like, but at the end, I was rooting for her at least.

This book is told from the viewpoint of an unconventional narrator. But this narrator can be anywhere and see everything, so it isn't all that different from 3rd person. It was unique though. There's also a lot of time jumps - the book opens moments after the car crash and then jumps back months, then forward, then back - but not at predictable intervals. It can be a little difficult to keep up with, but it kept it more interesting than if it was told in a linear fashion.