Best Local Girl Made Good (2013)

Cheryl Strayed

Cheryl Strayed published two books in 2012: a collection of her columns as the beloved advice-giver "Dear Sugar," and the blockbuster memoir Wild, which went on to relaunch Oprah's book club and sell at least a half-million copies. But before the international book tour, before her work was translated into 26 languages, and before she popped up in glossy magazines, Strayed was a girl living on a homestead in the woods near McGregor, Minnesota, who liked to read. She did well enough at the tiny McGregor High School to get into the University of St. Thomas, and she spent her early 20s shedding her small-town self in the Cities. At the same time, her life fell apart: Her mother died, her first marriage disintegrated, and one day, waiting in the checkout line at the REI store in Bloomington, Strayed saw a guidebook to the Pacific Crest Trail. She decided to flee Minnesota and hike the 1,100 miles in order to remake herself. Eighteen years later, Wild would chronicle her drifting years in the Twin Cities and her time on the trail. Now, even though she lives in Oregon, "Minnesota is home home," Strayed told City Pages in the fall. "I just think in some ways this is where I belong and always will."


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