(Note: I am in two challenges this month, so this is running a little earlier than I normally would publish a post. My 30 minus 2 Challenge post will be published early in the afternoon.)
In 2011, I did a series of stories about people who had hiked the Appalachian Trail. It truly is amazing to hear people speak about their experiences.
One of the people I wrote about was Emily Harper, a Pennsylvania teenager hiking more than 2,100 miles on her own. It’s pretty amazing to hear about something like this. Late in 2012, she e-mailed me and let me know she wrote a book about her experiences and was curious if I wanted to read and review it.
She sent me two copies — one for me to read and review and the other to give away. So if you’re interested in winning this autographed book, see the bottom of this post for the details.
With all that in mind, this is an honest review of the book, which takes you along the Appalachian Trail through her eyes. Her details are quite strong, he writing is conversational and, the one thing I truly loved, she didn’t hold anything back. It’s a colorful tale of her time along the trail, off the trail, her experiences and the people she met and hiked with.
It’s not perfect by any means. It’s a self-published book and it has some errors throughout. I’ll touch more on those later. While it’s true that I probably gave a little leeway here because of what she accomplished at her age, I’m still a writer and reader first — and I had to put myself in each of those shoes throughout. The price seems a little on the high side at $15.50 for paperback (on Amazon) and $5.99 for the Kindle version (on Amazon). If you are an Amazon Prime member, you an borrow the Kindle version for free, which is a good thing.
Still, as somebody who claims he will eventually write a book or three, I know the dedication and time needed and understand what she went through. But there are a lot of basic things in the book that made me cringe a little, which sometimes makes it hard to continue, no matter how good the stories are.
In the end, I’m glad I got the chance to read it, especially knowing I had written about her before. This is probably a good read for younger women thinking about tackling this hike by themselves as Harper is really straight forward with things and shows you what it’s like for a woman on the trail. Now, I’ll get a little more in-depth on my likes and dislikes.
There’s something to be said about not holding back any punches. Harper definitely doesn’t and that’s refreshing.
She’s candid about people she hiked with and met. She offers up her attitude on different things. She flaunts that hiking as a female can often be way better than being a guy. And she also shows a softer side in situations.
I liked that.
Many hiking books I’ve read don’t show that. They show you the eyes of the hike, introduce you to some people and make it sound pretty good. There’s no doubt that Harper’s hike wasn’t perfect. In fact, if you read the book, there might be times where you’ll say something out loud, wondering what she was thinking. Or that you didn’t like how she acted. I know I did. But I liked that. Because she didn’t paint herself as an angel. She also didn’t paint anyone else as being perfect.
Harper had some interesting hiking partners. From the ones she started off with and eventually was left behind by, to the ones she truly seemed to care about and wonder about what happened with them. She paints a picture in the reader’s mind of these people. She lets you develop your own thoughts. I like that.
The other thing I did like is this book is more like a journal. And, as somebody who read her online trail journal during her hike, it was nice to see that style in her book.
It’s personal, but can be impersonal at times. It’s written in a style that isn’t literary. Many people may not like this style. I don’t mind it with this book. It has to have a certain flavor for me to enjoy a style like this and I can dig it here. It’s almost like she handed me an old leather-bound book, handwritten for her long journey.
That, however, tends to lead into something that isn’t liked by most…
If one is to expect people to spend money on a book, the author needs to do everything in his or her power to make sure the book is clean in regard to spelling and grammar. I respect the self-publishing route. I’m not snobby like some who think self-publishing is a bad thing. In the modern day, some people need to go that route to get books published. And I’ve found many, many books I’ve truly enjoyed through authors who took that route.
That doesn’t, however, excuse one from doing everything in his or her power to make sure things are right.
There were a lot of mistakes in this book. I had started writing them down and finally stopped after a while. It was frustrating at times. Though I got through the book relatively quickly, there were moments I had to put the book down because I couldn’t accept the issues. I always went back, though, as the story was good.
The major errors includes punctuation, capitalization, and spelling.
A few examples including misspelling of things such as Willy Wonka, which was spelled Wanka. Or not capitalizing “Subway.” There were places where words needed hyphens, or needed to follow the right tense — one spot said “… but made my arms ached.” There was a chapter, too, where she spoke about some hiking friends and spelled the name of one person two ways.
Some people might be able to overlook issues like this, but I couldn’t. It was hard at times. A few things like this is one thing, but having it littered throughout makes one wonder if it was ever proofed or edited. If not, it could use a good edit and then maybe put out “a second edition” to update things a bit. Having two or three people — ones who aren’t afraid to tell the truth — edit a book before hitting the publish button can be worth their weight in gold.
I also would have liked a little more explanation at times, such as telling the reader what “root ball” is, besides it being a game some hikers played during their time on the trail.
Taking everything into account, I’m not going to lie that this was an extremely hard book to rate. There were so many good things, but then the issues with grammar and spelling really took the wind out of my sails.
I just didn’t know.
The reality is, I’d probably split this one down the middle. In other words, I’d give it a 2.5 or so. But that’s not based on the content. So, with that in mind, I’d bump it to a 3 out of 5 and would be more than willing to go a bit higher if a second edition came out with a bunch of edits. The 3 is worth is on content and style alone. But I couldn’t go more with knowing the issues with common things, some of which probably could have been avoided with a slow spell/grammar check in Word.
Artwork (For The Artful Readers Club)
This book is also one I’m reading for The Artful Readers Club. In this club, we read one book per month and also have to so some sort of a piece of art to go with it. For the second straight month, I went with an advertisement. I wanted to use a hiking shelter, but I couldn’t find any in my archived. I thought I had some. Instead, I just went with a trail photo.
I have a signed edition of this book that I’ll be giving away. So for the next two weeks, I’ll accept entries. Just drop a comment down below and you’re automatically entered in the drawing. Note that the book will be shipped via media mail to the winner.
Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] gmail.com. Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!
San Hoogland says
Well, I’m not ready to hike 2100 miles so no matter how she wrote this book I’m impressed!
I really like your honest review! I think you choose the perfect photo. It does make me want to lace up my shoes and go out! 🙂
San Hoogland recently posted..The Amber Spyglass – Philip Pullman
Love the honesty of your review, I too have been reviewing a book written by a friend and it is hard to know how to get people to believe you can be unbiased in such situations. I would love to win a copy of this book as it is an unusual subject matter for me.
Always happy to see a picture of the great outdoors 😀 XXX
Gina recently posted..Ghosts, Girls and a Grandma…
Sarah (Flo) says
Glad I am not the only spelling and grammar stickler 🙂 It sounds like a really interesting book that would be infuriating to read!
Maybe she could get you to proof read it for the second edition 🙂
I’m enjoying your series of photo based book ads….
Sarah (Flo) recently posted..Artful Readers Club February – America Unchained by Dave Gorman
It must be difficult to write a completely unbiased review of a friends book, however, you have certainly acheived it. Sharing the good and the not so good. The book sounds an interesting read. My hiking days are long gone now but reading about other peoples exploits is still of interest to me. Love your advert.
Shirley recently posted..Artful Reading Book 2
oh how difficult to review a friend’s book, I am sure I could not do that objectively. Her achievement is amazing, so i think she can be forgiven for the spelling mistakes. However, someone else should have proofread the book, edited if need be etc. You did a great job with your advert, looks to be a beautiful trail.
darcy recently posted..ARC February
I good review, Bad Spelling & gramma would drive my son nuts, he even spell checks people on face book so he would finish this book it would frustrate him too much. Me? self published I think way to go, for putting your self out there and going for it. (But if I wrote a book with spelling mistakes (I can’t spell well) I would be mortified) I’ve read a few travel books like ones by Shirley MacLaine. I like your art for this book as well looks like a great read Dxx
Dawn recently posted..Can you stand it?
oh that sounds like a great book. i love nature and hiking!
Paul Myers says
Sounds like it could be an interesting read. Having grown up in California, my dream was always to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. I’ve hiked parts of it, but never really a long portion other than one spot in the Minarets Wilderness Area, which is now called the Ansel Adams Wilderness Area. This is the portion that also includes the John Muir Trail. We hiked along this portion for the better part of a week.
We came down out of the mountains at the end of our time there and stopped in Bishop for lunch. I hadn’t read a paper in over a week, so I decided to buy the edition of the Los Angeles Times that was sitting in the news rack. I spotted the front picture with the 20 white Cadillacs in a funeral procession in downtown Memphis and wondered who big in Country and Western had died? That’s how I found out that Elvis had died.
Paul Myers recently posted..Flashback Friday
Alicia eureka says
Good review. I thruhiked the same year as Amish. It was truly the best experience of my life, but certainly the most challenging. I don’t know that I met her, although our paths probably crossed. Would love to read her perspective.
Christa M. says
Well done Emily! I’m open to editing, if you want, for a 2nd edition. Brian will let you know I’m quite the stickler. He had to put up with me all through college. We wish you all the best on your newest journey. I’ll bet you’ll be able to write a nice book about that too:)
This is an impressive review…I can understand the spelling/grammar issues (guilty of those at times). Hiking happens to be my favorite form of exercise and relaxation…the beauty & majesty of these places take my breath away! Thank you for the gorgeous photo & review.
Janet Van Rossen says
You had an extremely difficult job to do, objectively reviewing a friend’s book. I think you achieved it magnificently. Grammar and punctuation are so often overlooked and yet, if not done correctly, is so off putting to the reader. Lovely trail photograph.
Your review is wonderful. It really encompasses all we need to know.
NatashaMay recently posted..Book 2 and the Winner
Great review on an interesting book!
Virginia recently posted..ROCKING YOUR WORLD FRIDAY AND DARCY’S READING CHALLENGE – A CASUAL VACANCY
Susan Foulkes says
This sounds like a good read if you can get past the mistakes…which for me would be difficult…I proof read and beta read for a couple of authors.
An excellent review and the perfect picture.
Have you read Bill Bryson on the same hike?
Tracey Fletcher King says
I like the honest and open review and the artwork is fab… and have to agree about being bothered by bad grammar… poor editing drives me nuts and I have to work hard to not let it take away from what I think of the book…xx
Tracey Fletcher King recently posted..Lobster Tales….
She pulled no punches in her book, and it seems you pulled no punches in your review. I applaud you for that. Grammar makes a huge difference in whether you will enjoy reading a body of text. Aside from that, the good things you had to say about the book still make it sound like an interesting read.
KZ recently posted..Just to Set the Record Straight
Gina Shillitani says
I have a “thing” about spelling and grammar also, and am horrified by how much mine is deteriorating the older I get! The book sounds very interesting and that is certainly quite a feat for a young girl!
Gina Shillitani recently posted..Artful Reader’s Challenge – February
It is nice to hear your review is honest and that the writer can work on that. I’ve never read anything like this but it sounds like a refreshing change to you to read honest accounts of such adventures.
Loving your trail image.
I once did 32 mile sponsored walk and thought that was an achievement. (I’m quite unfit) I can’t even comprehend what this girl did. This is a good honest review. I know what you mean about spelling and grammar – it irks me too. This still sounds a really interesting read 🙂
Love your advert art again this month. Such a perfect picture 🙂
Carmen recently posted..Artful Readers Club – February
Alison xx says
An amazing achievement on Emily’s part. Good review of her tale. I agree about spelling and grammar. A xx
Alison xx recently posted..Now Sit Back and Relax……..
Maz H says
Not my sort of book I think and I would definitely struggle to get past the spelling and grammar issues! But sounds like an incredible achievement for someone to do that hike on their own – something I could never do. x
Maz H recently posted..Artful Readers Club – February book
Paul Myers says
I just finished this book. As you noted, it was a good read, but she could have used an editor, even a family member to read over it to find the mistakes that were made. Thanks for the copy.
Paul Myers recently posted..Time in a bottle?