Cheryl Strayed’s WILD, signed just for you! Writer Wednesday Signed Book Giveaway


“Be brave enough to break your own heart.”

Cheryl Strayed wild autographed signed hardcover Oprah Book Club memoir lost found pacific crest trail death of mother
Signed copy of wild by Cheryl Strayed, just for the winner of this contest!

As my friend and fellow writer, Beth Gilstrap wrote poignantly in her guest post last week, when Cheryl Strayed, at the AWP Writer’s Conference, read aloud a letter to her younger self, we wept. In one moment, Strayed took an auditorium of strangers and bonded us together for a moment of recognition, of empathy, maybe even (if we allowed it) revelation.

This was also how I felt when reading her memoir, wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. I cannot do this book any more justice than the beautiful reviews already written about it, but I can tell you that this is one of those books that will make you cry, will break your heart, and will make you love (hopefully yourself) a little more.

As a reader, this is my favorite review of the book:

As a writer, I love how this review shows what makes wild so effective from a craft perspective:

As you can guess, this upcoming move to Africa has me in daily panic mode, wondering if I will get everything done in the remaining eleven weeks before we board that plane. Today I was frantic. Kurt emailed that the company needed copies of our passports immediately to get the VISAs going. I knew where Kurt’s was, but I didn’t put mine back in the “Important Documents” folder after returning from Vietnam last May.

I finally found it buried under some clothes in the bedroom (because that makes the most sense?) but in the process of searching, stumbled across a long-forgotten document given to me by Mom. It’s not exactly a will, per se, but a simple list of policies and contact information. She gave it to me (to each of her children, I think) only a year or two before she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died. The information is no longer relevant, but the note that accompanied it took me out of commission for the afternoon.

Cheryl Strayed wild autographed signed hardcover Oprah Book Club memoir lost found pacific crest trail death of mother
“I expect to live long after this info is of any use, but one never knows.”   A tiny, beautiful thing to both break my heart today, and remind me how lucky I was to have been loved by such an amazing woman.

I’m telling you this because we always think we’re through things, until something comes up that makes us realize that healing is forever. And that’s okay. I would rather take these moments where I plummet into grief, because they remind me I’m alive, I love, I long, and I’m stronger because of it. Mom was so pragmatic (if somewhat dramatic) in leaving these little notes around. I now do the same thing for Kurt, torturing him with little morbid notes of “just-in-case” practicalities. I wonder how many more he will find someday.

“Understand that what you resolve will need to be resolved again and again…”

When I read wild, it was a couple years after Mom’s death. I opened the book knowing it included Strayed writing about the death of her own mother. (Strayed was only 22 when she lost her mother.) I worried I wouldn’t make it through the book, but faced down the fear. I’m so grateful I did.   But this book is about so much more than losing a parent, something we all have gone through, or will. The memoir is about so much more: discovery, courage, reinvention… The fact that the entire memoir follows her solo hike on the Pacific Crest Trail (having little experience even hiking at all) frames the work, as the New York Times writer suggests in his review (see link above) as an epic “walkabout.”

Cheryl Strayed wild autographed signed hardcover Oprah Book Club memoir lost found pacific crest trail death of mother
Cheryl Strayed with Autumn House Managing Editor Caroline Tanski.

Meeting Strayed after her beautiful reading and discussion was the highlight of the conference for me. I have loved this woman since I first read her work and taken strength from her words in both wild and her advice book, Tiny Beautiful Things.

I am so excited to give this book to one of you, and I hope you take from it all the love and beauty, heartbreak and inspiration that it gives.

Cheryl Strayed wild autographed signed hardcover Oprah Book Club memoir lost found pacific crest trail death of mother
Cheryl Strayed signing this book for the winner of this contest!


I’m going to make this very easy to enter. Comment below on one beautiful thing about one or both of your parents (whether they are living or not). Make it uplifting, and happy. What is your one favorite memory? What quirk do you love/hate? (That morbid practicality was my love/hate.) Does a certain food, place, person or event remind you of your mother or father (in a good way)? Each person who comments is entered once into the drawing for this book. Good luck, friends!

(You’re always reading about me and my life. I’d love this little insight on you!)

Bonus entries. Donate to vida between now and next Tuesday. VIDA is a grass-roots organization which “seeks to explore critical and cultural perceptions of writing by women through meaningful conversation and the exchange of ideas among existing and emerging literary communities.” Donate to VIDA and you will get 3 additional entries for the book. Make sure you email me proof of your donation ( marla at marlasinkdruzgal dot com ) and comment below after you’ve donated.

Deadline: Next Tuesday, 26 March, 5pm!

Cheryl Strayed wild autographed signed hardcover Oprah Book Club memoir lost found pacific crest trail death of mother
With Cheryl Strayed at her book signing at AWP Writer’s Conference in Boston, MA.

Love, Marla

P. S. Above quotes are excerpts from Strayed’s book, Tiny Beautiful Things, Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. You should get this book for yourself, for someone you love, for everyone you love.

36 thoughts on “Cheryl Strayed’s WILD, signed just for you! Writer Wednesday Signed Book Giveaway

  1. I found you when Heavy Metal Homesteader gave you the ‘Very Inspiring Blogger’ award, so of course I came right on over to see for myself. And she’s right! I’m looking forward to following your adventures in Aftica. Scary, but that’s just another name for the same sensations as Excited, as I know from experience (though I haven’t done anything on your scale!) I’m very interested in reading this book and will see if my library carries it.

    As to my parents, Mum is still alive at 93, but Dad died at only 75. They are both very intelligent, creative people who worked hard all through their lives. They gave up a lot for us; one of my favourite stories about that is that when I was a small child, if Dad was out of work, he wouldn’t buy cigarettes (so that I would have milk). He did it matter-of-factly; no complaining, no bad moods, just stopped (as he did again many years later after developing a blood clot in his leg). I wish I had known that before he died. But he and Mum never went on about what they did for us; it was their choice to be parents and that’s what they loved (not that it was easy, with nine of us!) They were both musical and Mum wrote lots of poetry, most of which was published in papers or read on the radio. After he retired, they would buy an old house near one of us and fix it up for resale. Mum wove a runner for the stairs in one place, Dad made stained glass windows in several of them; together they tore out walls and insulation, fixed plumbing, painted, put in gardens; all of that and much more. I lived far from them for most of my life, but have been lucky to be near Mum for the past decade and more; I had four good months with Dad before he died, too. Luckier than many, I think. My Mum lost her mother at the age of 10, with siblings from 2 to 20. Dad’s mother died when he was 19 and away at the War in Europe.

    Well, that’s probably more than you were expecting, but I do tend to get going, then not find a good spot to quit!

    Thanks for sharing your story, too. ~ Linne

  2. Hi Marla. Landed a cold – this is day 4; the watery-eyes-nose-blowing-occasional-sneeze stage – and I remember how much I was sick as a kid, how Mom was always there. She’d bring me a new Golden Book from the grocery and read to me. Other worlds in the pictures and characters she’d bring to life with different voices. Before I could read or write myself I had already fallen in love with books and the magic to be found in them. It’s possible I willed myself to get sick for all that lavish attention (I being #5 of 6 kids). But one thing’s for sure, she nurtured that desire in me to write and illustrate books myself. Anyone might go crazy raising 6 children and I have tended to hold that in my mind more than the lovely woman sitting next to me on my sickbed, reading The Story of Ferdinand for the zillionth time. I just hope I thanked her enough for loving me, for knowing me so well.

  3. My Dad painting antique license plates on a winter afternoon.

    My Mom and me walking in Manhattan at Christmas.

    (Today’s snow is super inspiring, despite my desperate hope for spring!)

    1. Those are wonderfully specific, Erin. The details make the memories last. I firmly believe that.
      I’m also inspired by the snow. It makes me think of my favorite memories of coming in from playing in the snow and my mom taking my frozen tiny fingers and putting them against her warm belly.

      I need to hear more about “painting antique license plates.” That sounds so interesting!

      You’re entered in the drawing, and thanks for stopping and sharing this today!

  4. Marla,

    Thank you for another beautiful blog post. As you know, my mom is my best friend, so I couldn’t let this contest, or the chance to comment about my mom, pass by.

    So the thing that I love/hate, actually hate/love about my mom, is when I tell her what I consider to be exciting things in my life (specifically about my relationships) and her reaction is silence, or a monotone, less-than-thrilled, “uh huh”. It drives me berserk! I want her to be jumping up and down with me and crying tears of joy. I hate that even though I know she will not give me the response I want, she is still the first person i call to tell any news to. The reason I love this about her is because I know that this is her way of showing me she loves me. No one will ever be good enough for me in my mom’s eyes. She will like them, maybe even love them, but they still aren’t good enough. My mom is also an over-analyzer and a worrier (I wonder where I get it from) and as her youngest child, I will always be treated as the baby. I know when I go to sleep at night I have the thoughts and prayers of a loving, albeit worried, mother. What’s better than that?

    1. Leslie, I love your relationship with your mom. I especially love it because I know that despite whatever differences you have on specific issues, it never changes your love for each other, and that you seem so good at pushing through those difficulties to strengthen your bond.

      I can really relate to that “uh huh.” My mom and I didn’t have an ideal relationship. My teenage years it was downright ugly. But I also love/hated that “uh huh” and silence. I didn’t realize until much older that in our case (not meaning it would be the same in yours because every person and every relationship is different) my mom was constantly worried that I would have a big ego or be arrogant, so she downplayed my accomplishments.
      But like you, she was always the first person I wanted to call when anything happened.

      I love your share. Thank you so much for posting. You’re entered in the drawing for the book.

  5. On the day when I needed it the most struggling with my 18 year old son I found in the very bottom of my Dad’s secretary, a box forgotten, tied in a ribbon, never having been found from his death 9 years ago. In the box the first thing I discovered was a 3 page letter I had written to him at 19 (I am now 45) … the first line reading “this letter is an amendment to how I’ve treated you my whole life”. And it ended with “I can’t possibly explain how much you mean to me in words.” Every card, note I gave to him after that 19 year old enlightenment saved in that box…my own words now a gift of the likes I’ve never received before from my most dearest friend touching me from another world….

    1. Oh Trish, that is amazing. How fortunate to know how much he cherished your letters, and to have that revelation just when you’re working through struggles with your own teenager.

      Sharing such a gift makes it a gift/inspiration for others who get to read it as well, so thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story,
      You’re entered in the contest!

  6. My father still seems like the most brilliant person in the world. My mother died when I was very young, but I still remember the softness of her skin.

    1. Lauren, thank you for sharing this. I love that your memory of your mother is tactile. I think that keeps it so much stronger in the mind, don’t you? And I love that you still adore and look up to your father.
      You’re entered in the drawing, and thank you for stopping and posting.

  7. I found myself mourning my distant cold mother all over again, but Cheryl’s pilgrimage on the trail, her absolute unapologetic method of living had me thinking as I have not thought in many years. Her determination to discover herself in the manner she chose should be a great guide for women. May I tell you how I appreciate my husband of almost 30 years who has allowed me to grow and change? Everyday he reawakens my joy in the wonder of life. He is my mother and my father, my lover and my friend. I truly believe the universe brought a girl from Alabama and a boy from Oregon together because we were both motherless although both women still live on the earth today. I tell others about “Wild” but caution them they may look for their own trail to follow.

    1. That’s beautifully stated, Robin. It’s an incredible thing to have someone love you unconditionally, and I really believe getting that from someone (whether it’s parent, spouse, or even the surrogate love we feel coming from Strayed’s book) can empower us to really find the best of our “self.”
      I love what you tell others about following their own trail as well.
      Thank you so much for stopping by, sharing your story, and for entering the contest.

  8. I’m 50 but my mom still makes me call her when my husband and I finish a hike or I run a trail race or I travel out of state. When I’m sick, she still calls me “poor little hashky.” When I’m being dumb, she tells me to knock it off, and when I’m being too self-absorbed, she calls me on that, too. I have to be a grown-up for work and for my daughters and for my elderly in-laws, but I get to be somebody’s kid when it cones to my mom. She gives me strength and love and that helps me give others strength and love.

  9. I love that my mother at 77 yrs old is still very much involved in all of her children’s and grand childred and great grand children’s lives! She remembers all of our birthdays! And she’s still swingin and dancin and still learning new things in life!

    1. Thank you for sharing. You’re entered in the drawing for the book!

      Your mother sounds wonderful! I love to read about people who seem to be able to make every day a celebration of life (their own, their descendants, others around them.) 🙂

  10. Thanks for drawing me in for a little reflective time today, Marla. The thing that I adore most about both of my parents is that, even though they both left me very early in life in the physical realm, they left enough of themselves within me that I was able to be comforted by them in the metaphysical sense beyond their time here on earth. I was a little girl when my mother died of cancer, so I can’t tell you the sense of love & comfort it gave me for her to come and visit me and to encourage me in my dreams for years after her death. (She would tell me each time that she couldn’t stay, but I felt cherished during those visits and at peace, not panic, when they had to end.) I had only barely left teenage-hood when my dad died in an unexpected boating accident. I received one visit from him only in a dream & it was as vivid in my mind today as it was the night it occurred. He had come up our stairway, as was always his late afternoon custom, stood in the kitchen doorway by our phone (because that’s usually where he found me – studying at the kitchen table – when he arrived home), and he spent time encouraging me that all was going to be well and that I would make it through this. He reminded me that I was his little soldier (a term he coined at my mother’s funeral), and even though life would have its tough moments, I could be assured that I would never be alone. I’ve never seen either of them in my dreams since – but I’ve felt well-equipped to move forward in life and am thankful for the time I had each of them. As strange as my post may seem to some, those are truly my ‘final memories’ of my parents; and as a parent, I can only hope that I’ve instilled enough of myself into my own children that they can somehow carry a genuine part of me with them, however it manages to express itself, after I’ve left their physical presence. Grace & peace, -j

    1. Oh Jody, I think you’re one of the most reflective people I know on a regular basis! I really can’t even tell you how much it means that you would share this story about your parents. You are such an uplifting and joyous person, and there can’t be a better tribute to how you were raised than how you are as a human now. “Human Triumphant” indeed!
      I love the memories you shared, and your amazing spirit.
      Thank you, so much.

      1. aww, garsh…I’m blushing. Keep that up & I’ll become some weird stalker of you – lol! (I know you’ll get that – just hope any of your new followers reading this go back & search your posts to get it too! ha!) Thanks for uplifting me today – you know I think you are outrageously adorable too!

  11. I love how my mom reminds me of her dad, my Pappy. In her I see now all the little quirks he had that she complained about, like refusing to take money for something she got in town for you, yet forcing money on you when you get her anything. Someday I hope to be the same powerful reminder of a wonderful mother…

    1. Mona, that’s wonderful to see the multi-generational personality traits like that. I hope you’re jotting these things down for your family. So beautiful. I think your someday is already here.

      You have an entry for the book. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I wish I knew your mom. I wish your mom could tell you how proud she is of you today. If my daughter were to grow up and be like you – exactly like you – just the way you are – I’d be so proud. My favorite, beautiful thing about my dad is his tough act on the outside, but true good heart on the inside. When I moved back home with my parents after my divorce, my dad got a jury duty notice in the mail. I remember when he came home from work saying to him, “Dad, Dad!! You got called for jury duty! Criminal division!” He said, “They won’t pick me, because I believe in capital punishment. They should execute all the criminals!” So, he went to jury duty, was picked, because apparently, you have to say that you can elect capital punishment if that’s part of the decision, and he was assigned to a drive-by shooting case and came home with a new realization of the weight of the responsibility. He really was scared about it. I was “lucky” enough to be waitressing at the time and was able to go to town with him almost every day and sit in on the trial. He went to our pastor for a blessing the day the trial started and he went to church every morning before heading to town for court and prayed to make the right decision. He ended up being the juror that almost hung the jury because of how much he advocated on behalf of the defendant. He said he watched the parents of the accused every day, sit behind their son, and he really was moved by that and felt as though the evidence had shown that defendant was set up by those who agreed to testify for immunity. I learned a lot about my dad through that and was proud of how earnest he was in carrying out his duty. I loved this blog and am loving reading everyone’s posts….as always, thanks, Marla.

    1. I love this story. I can really relate, because it’s so easy to think you “are” a certain way, until you’re in the situation where you have to test those views against reality, and you question, and discover, and come out the other side either more open, or more comprehending of why they are your beliefs.

      I also wish you knew my mom. She had all the best (and most frustrating) qualities of a teacher, both in and out of the classroom.

      Your dad sounds great. I love people who wear their character on their sleeve.

      Thanks so much for sharing this and for entering!

  13. Great post, Marla! My Dad told me (and all of my siblings) that we would always be the smartest people in the room. He believes in us like that. He didn’t say this was necessarily a good thing, but it was something to keep in mind. Both of my parents taught me to never do something half-ass. This is definitely one of those things about parents you both love and hate. But you certainly learn how to work hard and follow through.

    1. Thanks, Robyn. Yeah I keep thinking that some of the most frustrating traits are because they’re helping us grow in one way or another. And your dad was right. You’re certainly one of the smartest people I’ve met! 🙂
      Thanks for entering the contest and for sharing!

  14. Lovely post, Marla, as always. And a lovely contest, as well. I’ll take any outlet to share beautiful things about my mother.

    The beautiful thing about my mom is her unfailing ability to expect the best from everyone, be surprised at the bad from anyone, and love them all anyway. She’s an optimist to a fault, and I’m so often irritated by her genuine surprise when the less pleasant side of a person’s nature comes out. She lost her own father at ten and has lived a life surrounded by sarcastic pessimists who take her for granted too often, but I’m so grateful for the reminder that kindness is never the wrong option. When I was a teenager, someone cut us off in a parking lot at a movie theater. My mom almost hit the person, and she clenched her knuckles on the steering wheel, gearing up to really let them have it. “You…you…” she started. I waited for the verbal slap, excited to see her anger override her positive nature. “YOU…PERSON!” That was the big finish. That’s my mom.

    I realize this is way long, sorry — I’m commenting from a homesick place today. Also I donated to VIDA and will be emailing you the receipt!

    1. Thank you, Amanda. Comments are never too long, for me. I love to read these. Your mom sounds like such a beautiful person. I think the world needs more of that active kindness. I love the story, and can just see her at the wheel fighting against the frustration.
      I got the receipt, thanks. You have 4 entries!!

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