She sat with her hands folded tightly together…

Word count: 268 words

Reading time: About 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. Today’s comes from Cheryl Strayed, author of the memoir, Wild.

I’d heard nothing but rave reviews about Wild by Cheryl Strayed. “I couldn’t put it down,” said one friend. “How I loved that book,” said another.

When I saw the work on the “quick reads” shelf at my local library, I grabbed it. And the first sentence hooked me immediately: “The trees were tall abut I was taller, standing above them on a steep mountain slope in northern California.”

I liked the rhythm of it and, as a former hiker myself, I could identify with her smugness about standing taller than the trees.

But after reading a few chapters, I was less enthralled. She’s really rather whiney. And, wow, is she ever unprepared. She’s never owned hiking boots or a pack and she suddenly decides to do an 1,100-mile hike? If I didn’t know any better, I’d say she’d looked at the success of Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love) and Julie Powell (Julie and Julia) and decided that she needed a quick, if painful, ticket to a bestselling book.

It’s sad that more sentences didn’t carry the heft of these two:

She sat with her hands folded tightly together and her ankles hooked one to the other. Shackled to herself. 

Yup, Cheryl Strayed had shackled herself to the monumental task of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, all alone, even though she’d never hiked before. I like the image even though I didn’t like the book.

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