Woman Reads Library Book, Realizes Author Is Her Sister

Cheryl Strayed's best-selling memoir brings women together

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 9, 2013 8:54 AM CDT

(Newser) – What many of us end up with after checking a book out of the library: a fine for returning it late. What one woman ended up with: a long-lost half sister. That woman isn't named by NPR, who spoke to author Cheryl Strayed. Wild is a memoir of her 1995 1,100-mile West Coast hike with the now-extra appropriate subhead "From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail." As a bestseller and the first pick for Oprah's Book Club 2.0, it led to a flood of correspondence from fans—including an email she read this summer from a woman who "was just halfway into chapter one when she said she sat bolt upright in bed and realized that we had the same father," Strayed tells NPR.

The woman told Strayed she was drawn to the book because of its cover (which features a hiking boot against a white background). Strayed had known she had a half-sister and had poked around the Internet for her (she knew her first name), with no luck; she doesn't think her sister knew her name, just that she had older siblings from another family "my father had ... before she came along." Strayed doesn't name her father in the book, but her descriptions were enough to allow her half-sister to recognize the man. Neither of them have a relationship with him, but they are slowly developing one with each other, though the two have yet to meet or speak on the phone. (In January, a brother was reunited with his sister after a nearly 60-year search for her.)

Novelist Cheryl Strayed.
Novelist Cheryl Strayed.   (Charles Sykes /AP Images for Syracuse University)
Best-selling author Cheryl Strayed.
Best-selling author Cheryl Strayed.   (Seven Days of Opening Nights)
The memoir.
The memoir.   (CherylStrayed.com)
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