memoir (2)

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest TrailWild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At age 22, Cheryl Strayed’s mother is diagnosed with cancer and very quickly dies; Cheryl is devastated. Her mother loved all of her children very much and Cheryl couldn’t deal with her illness and all too quickly her death and departure from Cheryl’s life. In the four years after; her family disintegrates and her marriage ends. An idea forms and Cheryl works and saves money to hike to Pacific Crest Trail. She reads guide books and consults with REI about her clothes, boots, and all the essential gear she will need to accompany her on the 2,663 mile long trail. She mails money and supply boxes to lodges along the way. The 1200 miles that she traverses takes her from California, through Oregon, Nevada and Washington. She meets people along the way, battles all kinds of problems on her way to rediscovering herself. Readers will be thoroughly engaged in Cheryl’s story, each step she took, each monumental moment she encountered along the trail. I laughed with her, I cried with her but most of all I cheered with her.

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Breaking Night: A Memoir by Liz Murray

Liz Murray's memoir is so amazing because of the horrors she endured on a daily basis, yet still loved her drug addled parents who would live paycheck to paycheck to buy drugs.  And since Liz was six when this change in her life became apparent, Liz would do whatever she could to keep her parents' attention -- like be a lookout, or as her mom waited in line for her check, Liz would help her get through the wait time by asking questions and providing nonstop encouragement to her mother.  There were times when her mother was hospitalized and her father would take over but still continue with the drugs.  As a result of this dysfunction, at a very early age, Liz began to skip school; one time she was even taken to a girls home until she stopped her truancy.  Liz's descriptions of their fetid apartment, her lice infested head, her filthy clothes and constant hunger are even more jarring because she loves her parents and then begins to hate them when she is taken away and her mother continually lets her down.  Luckily Liz has many friends who become she extended family and she spends time with these friends for food and lodging.  She never talks to them about her life, but she seeks and gains acceptance with these friends who are still part of her life today.  As much as you feel so sorry for her, Liz is indomitable in spirit and keeps grabbing onto what life will give her---sometimes a lot, sometimes a little. Through her rich, descriptive language, New York is a vibrant city with many adventures that Liz and her friends grab--night or day.  Her resourcefulness knew no bounds and she was smart enough to realize before it was too late, that she needed to do something with her life.  Just like Jennifer Storm's Blackout Girl and Walls, Glass Castle, Liz Murray is to be applauded for what she becomes and how she gives back to her community.
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