It really resonated for me. I think it will for a lot of people, women particularly, who are feeling lost in who they are and what their purpose is.
Deciding to hike the PCT trail - one of the roughest and most difficult treks in America, Cheryl has no hiking experience nor any job or secure income to return to. The PCT trail is 1,100 miles of the west coast of America - from the Mojave Desert, through California and Oregon, and into Washington State. She has recently divorced and has no set plans around where she'll live when she finally emerges in Oregon - IF she emerges!
When still only 22, Cheryl's mother is diagnosed with cancer and given only months to live. It is her death that proves the catalyst for some seriously self-destructive behaviour: one-night stands with men she barely knows or cares for, heroin, gaining and picking up waitressing jobs and failing to finish her degree.
I'll be very keen to see what Reese Witherspoon has done with the adaptation to the big screen. She has already won major acting awards for this role and apparently was determined to see it made into a movie straight after reading the book. I think she's underrated as a serious dramatic actress so I hope this proves me correct!
What really gave me hope is Cheryl's reminder that we really don't know what comes next. We've all got our issues to deal with and attempt to resolve, but there are beautiful, kind and generous people in the world and it is often at her lowest when someone will offer her a meal or a free camping site, a ride into town or dinner with their family. Even in the remotest places along the track, the most unlikely characters with the kindest hearts appear!
I feel very much like I do everything alone and while my inner control-freak loves it this way, it IS lonely and I don't want it to be like this anymore. I don't want to be brave enough to hike a remote 1,100 miles. I want to be brave enough to say "I want to be loved, just as I am, with my flaws and faults. Because I WANT to be better."
I hope my own situation does change - I know it's largely up to me to change things about my life to make this happen. I will try to channel my inner survivor and warrior woman. I will try to see the beauty in other people and find hope and resilience in that. If you've read this book or you feel like you've survived something immense and learned from it - I want to know! Come share it on the Core Integrity With Cat Facebook page.