Cheryl Strayed’s Torch Book Club

Having recently inhaled Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, I was then eager to read her first novel, Torch.  With similar life experiences as the female protagonist Claire- a parent who suffers a gruesome death at the hands of cancer, various familial dysfunction, and a previous longing for the consummate romantic relationship- I bookmarked passage after passage which seemed to have come from my own thought processes during my near-identical life experiences:  
Years passed. . . Slowly, stingingly, she forgave them [her parents] without their knowing about it.  She accepted the way things were- the way they were- and found that acceptance was not what she’d imagined it would be.  It wasn’t a room she could lounge in, a field she could run through.  It was small and scroungy, in constant need of repair.  (52)

Strayed does not romanticize life, but, instead reveals it in all its awkwardness, ugliness, and blessedness.
In addition, Strayed is not only author, but also neologist with the creation of parentified– “‘ . . . where a child who is still a child doesn’t get to be a child entirely because he or she has to take on things that children shouldn’t have to take on . . . common in single-parent families- where the child has to look after younger siblings, cook meals, and stuff like that'”  (56).  Recalling my own childhood, I can easily see how my older sister was definitely parentified,  and certainly not of her own volition at the tender age of fourteen.
For the purposes of book club, an assortment of vegetarian dishes in honor of Teresa Rae Wood would be appropriate.  Perhaps a scalloped potato casserole with peas along with herbal tea would be ideal items offered at your book club discussion.

Cheryl Strayed

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Cheryl Strayed’s Wild Book Club

Although I finished reading Strayed’s Wild last week, I have been putting off writing about this read because I dread having to return this book to the library.  Wild is definitely a keeper on so many levels.  Strayed writes with such brutal honesty which allows herself (the protagonist in this memoir) to become an actual flawed human being which, in turn, allows the reader to find herself or himself within the text such as I did.  Struggling with the death of her mother and the end of her marriage, Strayed sets out on a journey across the Pacific Crest Trail in an attempt to find herself, forgive herself, and forget the “what ifs” in life.
A first for me reading this memoir was finding myself laughing aloud again and again while reading about Strayed’s encounters with her U-Dig-It stainless-steel trowel.  Among other uses, this tool was utilized to create a make-shift toilet in the ground.  Having no prior experience with this device combined with Strayed’s blunt description of the undeniable urgings of nature, the visual formed was laugh-out-loud humorous while invoking a sympathetic admiration for the main character.  Fighting fatigue after a recent surgery, I continued to turn Wild’s pages well into the night so that I could rejoice in Strayed’s triumphs along the trail right along with her.
Undoubtedly, a challenge to one’s body would be a fitting way to meet in order to discuss Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.  Perhaps, a team created to benefit breast cancer victims walking a marathon and one-half together as in the Avon Breast Cancer Walk in Chicago would allow plenty of time to discuss Wild and evaluate one’s life . . .  believe me.

Cheryl Strayed