Credit: Joni Kabana

In the 2012 memoir Wild, author Cheryl Strayed sets out on a grueling hiking trip to help get past some personal losses, including her mother’s death and her divorce. As it turns out, that journey led to another, unexpected outcome: The connection to a half-sister she’d never met.

Over the summer, Strayed’s half-sister just happened to check out Wild at her local library. “She was just interested in books on travel,” Strayed told NPR. “She’s not a hiker but … that hiking boot on the cover caught her eye. And she was just halfway into chapter one when she said she sat bolt upright in bed and realized that we had the same father.”

The two have stayed in contact via email but have yet to meet in person, though Strayed hopes that a meeting is in their future. “It’s been really pretty interesting to think about: What is family? And what is a connection? You know, obviously this isn’t someone I grew up with. I’m meeting her as an adult. And … our connection is through this man who neither one of us has a relationship with now. And so how are we sisters? And how do we proceed?”

Listen to the full interview with Strayed on NPR’s website.

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