Strayed (Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, 2012, etc.) offers insight into the world of online advice through her collection of letters sent to “Dear Sugar,” her once-anonymous column for the online magazine The Rumpus.
Sugar’s Golden Rule—“Trust Yourself”—pushes the author and her readers to embrace themselves and not be afraid of asking life’s complex questions. Strayed writes that she will “answer anything, so long as it interests or challenges or touches me.” Men and women of all ages contact her hoping she can solve their problems, which include affairs, the loss of a loved one, self-acceptance and understanding the point of existence. In thematic sections, the author presents verbatim letters and their detailed published replies. Strayed’s practical advice mixes with abundant personal anecdotes in which she illustrates to the addressee the reasoning behind her counsel. Admittedly not versed in psychology, her responses are sensitive and comprehensive, and her verbose self-reflection projects understanding and sympathy. Though she avoids medical jargon, Strayed suggests medical counseling when it is necessary. The author demonstrates her forthright personality in a comforting yet stern writing style that connects readers to each contributor’s plight and the subsequent response to their cry for help. Appealing to Dear Sugar fans and self-help seekers alike, this “collection of intimate exchanges between strangers” demonstrates that wisdom doesn’t come only from age, but also from learning from the experiences of others.
A realistic and poignant compilation of the intricacies of relationships.