Camping Book Review or How this ex-Wild Woman did not Lose her Soul

I just got back from a week in the Maine woods with my family… a well deserved time off to read, swim, read, eat, hike (well, in my case limp), read, sit by the camp fire…and read. Did I mention read? Yeah I read 3, almost 4, books this past week. (Yeah I know… I don’t look very excited in that picture hahaha). The first book I devoured in 2 days. The Soul Reader, Gerard D. Webster’s sequel to In-Sight  was awesome! Great book… a Catholic novel of suspense. Loved it! I highly recommend it! Yet again (for the third time)  I found a used copy of a book (on signed by the author… excellent!


Then I decided to read something not Catholic … I was told Wild by Cheryl Strayed was a good read so I brought that along with me. Well, I almost threw it in the fire… I was not happy with Ms. Strayed’s use of  um… language … and she was pretty blasphemous…. seriously I was going to give up on it, pitch it … but I didn’t. She is a very good writer… and I decided to give her a chance.. because even though I did not like some of what she said I felt I needed to give the story another try, because it sounded interesting: a young woman hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) alone.
But why didn’t I like her?… why did I almost chuck the book across the campsite?…. she reminded me of someone ….
Yeah the old me. The old obnoxious me. The old obnoxious foul-mouthed me who thinks its cool to be shocking. yeah. Me… who wrote an even more obnoxious novel~ Violation: The Bitchings of a Boston Meter Maid… hm.
Why is it that women writers now feel the need to BE in-your-face obnoxious and “shocking” … it is disturbing that it is now the “norm”  to  be the cool, witty, vulgar woman…. in the novel, by page 23, I had had it… I understood she was upset by her mother’s death… but she called God a ruthless bitch… yup, she did. Those exact words.  And then…. she discussed her abortion so nonchalantly… “I got an abortion and learned how to make dehydrated tuna flakes and turkey jerky and took a refresher course on basic first aid and practiced using my water purifier in my kitchen sink” (p. 57). Yes that was all in the same sentence… getting an abortion and making turkey jerky …obviously both “mundane” ordinary things need to be in the same sentence… UGH. Really?…Unfortunately abortion has gotten to the point in our society that it is one of the many “things” women “do” in their life… as if it is nothing and no big deal.
Reminds me of another book~ The Maid: A Novel of Joan of Arc  by Kimberly Cutter. Great book about Joan of Arc… but… I was disturbed by some of the language and description that was used …seriously… hey Ms. Cutter… you are writing about a SAINT… could you please use some decorum? No?… hm.
So as I read Wild and thought about the author and thought back on the old me (I’m probably about the same age as the author)…I thought back on The Soul Reader. In that novel the main character could see the person’s soul… see if they were good or evil. And there are really people out there like that  (St. Padre Pio) … and I thought, when I was like that was there someone who could see that ugliness in me?
And I also thought that if the author, Ms. Strayed, had gone into the awesome, humorous and disturbing journey with some faith, or at least found her faith while there (or even after) it would have made such an incredible, wonderful story! Sure she did make that journey to get over her mother’s death and other things that were wrong in her life… but if she had or found faith…wow… really… if she could have used all that suffering (her poor feet! Losing 6 toenails!) to save souls… if she could have seen how God was working in her life and acknowledged, accepted and grown spiritually…  really… it is so sad that she did not see Him at all in her wonderful, horrible, crazy, journey …. so sad. Pathetic even.
Why have so many women gone astray? (I am making a play on her last name, the name she, Cheryl “Strayed”, chose after divorcing her husband). Too many women go off to find themselves and never think of looking for God. It’s all about them… if they only would let themselves go and seek Him they would feel peace and freedom… and find what God planned for them …. the wonderful woman He created them to be …. but no.
She is a wonderful writer and she wrote a great story… but… I also see a woman with no faith, a woman like so many women out there, who could become someone wonderful … and beautiful … who found God while lost on the PCT… but unfortunately she (and so many women) follow the world and the world creates this crass caricature that so many women desire to be….
We need more strong women writers who will make a stand…who will refuse to be crass and obnoxious writers….In the immortal words of St. Joan of Arc, “Are you strong enough?”
I pondered a lot while camping and reading … I thought about the old me, who I was, who I have become… and who I am still transforming into…. all because of God. I am thankful that I now SEE God working in my life. I pray that women like Cheryl Strayed stop “straying”….and do find God someday and do see that He was working in her life back on the PCT.



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