Archives for posts with tag: emotional

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

WildWild is a memoir of loss, grief, and finding yourself again. After losing her mother and her marriage, Cheryl Strayed went on a years-long bender of reckless behavior. She impulsively decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, which runs from Canada down the Western USA to Mexico, as a journey of self-discovery. Strayed encountered many problems, some stemming from her lack of knowledge about the trail and her failure to pack practically, but ultimately triumphed over the trail and worked through some of her problems.

I have heard that this book has inspired many new hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail, but experienced hikers may be underwhelmed by her lack of preparedness and wilderness skills. There are some passages I found genuinely moving, and passages that were very funny as well. Be prepared for the a bit of 1990’s Northwest counterculture/hippie vibe that shows through as well.

This is a feel-good story of growth that won a lot of awards last year, including being included in Oprah’s book club and being named a best book of the year by NPR. It will come out as a movie in December 2014 and will star Reese Witherspoon, so you can get started on reading it before it gets even more popular with the film release. This is a great beach read for those interested in hiking, mother-daughter relationships, or journeys of healing and self-discovery.

From King County Library System in downloadable ebook, downloadable audiobook, pre-loaded audiobook player, audiobook cd, large print book, book, and Spanish-language book:

From Amazon:

IMDB for the film version:


The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe v. Wade by Ann Fessler

girls-who-went-awayThis is a nonfiction collection of stories gathered from interviews by women who gave children up for adoption in the 1950’s, 60’s, and early 70’s. The author intersperses the stories with chapters about the culture and social forces at work during the period. The book tells a wide array of stories, but one theme runs throughout the book – the lack of choices and agency of the birth mothers, and the incredibly strong forces from society, social workers, and their own families that led the women to give their children up. I did not know much about adoption before reading this book, but I knew what society said about adoption: that birth mothers wanted to give up their children and could not or would not raise the children themselves. This might be different today, but The Girls Who Went Away shatters that myth for the 50’s-70’s. The women’s stories are shocking and sad, and some made me angry, but it is important for these stories to be told, as that can be the first step in understanding and healing for birth mothers and adopted children.

One problem I had with the book is that the author chose women to interview based on women who were (in the organization?). The group of women were self-selecting, as they joined the organization and volunteered to tell their stories. This makes for a sample that is probably not representative of birth mothers as a whole during this period, but as there are not public records of women who were birth mothers to sample from, and there is so little research into this area, I feel this book goes a long way to filling the need for information about the topic.