Alone in Wonderland reads like a personal journey, more so than the physical. And even though no descriptions can come even remotely close to capturing the unmatched beauty of Mout Rainier, Christine did manage to paint a stunning picture of the trail and the nature surrounding this active volcano.
If you’ve enjoyed Anish’s Thirst: 2600 Miles to Home or Cheryl Strayed’s Wild, you’ll enjoy Alone in Wonderland. It’s a beautifully unique, easily loveable, and simply humble recollection of Christine’s journey not only around Mount Rainier but also through life. I could very easily relate to her when she grappled with the thought that, perhaps, she’d disappointed her parents. That, perhaps, she’s not enough. That, perhaps, she’s not loveable. But as the trail did for so many of us, it taught Christine, too. It taught her about camaraderie, self-reliance, and confidence. It taught her so much more, and it can all be found in her writing.
This being said, until I sat back and took a moment to think about the book, I had a bit of a hard time figuring out what it was really about. Chapters that sounded like a personal journal from years ago intermingled with chapters capturing the here and now. It wasn’t jarring, the seams between these two timelines were strong and smooth, and the choices of past experiencing connected to the present mostly made sense, but I couldn’t help but try to figure it out while reading.
A typo or two throughout the book also slowed down my progress. This being said, I still read the book nearly in one go; it felt almost as if I was reading a letter from a friend rather than a book meant for many to see. Alone in Wonderland felt personal and warm, as if Christine and I were sitting by the fire, sipping hot cocoa, wearing woolen socks, and telling each other stories from summer.
In her own words, “Alone in Wonderland is a story about backpacking. But it’s also a story about: independence, love, grief, freedom, adventure, family, chosen family, challenging societal norms, safety, trauma, overcoming, letting go, letting in, self-knowledge, self-acceptance.”
And I could see where these themes came up in the book, and relate to Christine’s struggles and victories.
Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read something “easier,” but still enjoy beautiful storytelling and personal accounts of those that found answers out there in the wilderness.