This book should have been titled "I Make Poor Life Choices and Have No Business Backpacking". Really, what kind of idiot doesn't pack and weigh her gear before leaving? Or break in her hiking boots? Sadly, those are two of the smaller mistakes she makes on her trip - it gets so much worse. The author really only survived thanks to the kindness of others. Had she not met people willing to fall for her cutesy "I'm so sad, helpless and vulnerable" act, she'd have hiked off a cliff or into a river and we'd never have heard of her.
Every time she comes to a point where she needs to make a decision, she chooses the dumbest possible course of action. Her thought process and decision making skills annoyed me so much, but what really angered me to the point that I almost couldn't finish the book was her total lack of insight into herself and the world. Despite this book being described as her journey into self-discovery, I found very little discovery actually going on. Half of the book describes her skills as the world's dumbest backpacker, while the other half relates weird or disturbing stories from her youth. At no point does she seem to realize that she is the root cause of her problems. She just mopes along, then ends in Oregon. No conclusion, no discovery, nothing. Just more of the same dumb decisions and actions over and over and over. Is it sad that she lost her mom? Absolutely. But her mom's death actually has very little to do with the fact that Cheryl makes terrible choices, since she tells us a bunch of ways she's been making bad decisions long before her mom's death.
In general, I felt like there was a lot of false advertising going on with this book. It's definitely over-hyped and I have no idea why it's being made into a movie, since it's essentially a lot of narcissistic whining. Read it if you must, but don't say I didn't warn you. I guess the one saving grace is that it's better written than 50 Shades of Grey.