THE SHARP END OF LIFE by Dierdre Wolownick


A Mother's Story
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Inspirational memoir from the oldest woman to climb El Capitan.

As Wolownick (English for (Foreign) Language Students, 2013, etc.) recounts, her mother was incapacitated by childhood polio, so when the author was old enough, she became her mother’s arms and legs, doing errands and chores at age 5. Her father told her she’d never be his equal. Later, Wolownick married an emotionally abusive man and spent years in a relationship that sparked no love or joy, staying only because she felt duty-bound to her children to provide a solid home life. Her son, Alex Honnold, began climbing as an infant and never stopped, eventually becoming a legendary free climber. Her daughter is a marathoner. Both children inspired the author to push herself to perform in both sports, and she began training in her mid-50s. In this melancholic and reflective book, Wolownick shares the lows of her childhood and her marriage, voicing the doubts and fears she had and the lack of companionship or love she felt. She intertwines these moments with the highs of her life—e.g., finding the strength and energy to run her first marathon, followed by others, and then to begin climbing with Alex by her side. In both sports, she found new friendships, created deeper bonds with her children, and, most importantly, rediscovered her own self-worth and capacity to persevere through the most difficult circumstances. The author proves that age is just a number and that determination and grit can take a person to unexpected heights. For her, that meant conquering El Capitan at the age of 66. Wolownick’s story of her drive to push her physical body beyond her mental limits will serve as a stimulant for those yearning to do more with their lives.

A motivational tale of a woman who overcame her biggest critics, including her inner self, to achieve one dream after another.

Pub Date: May 1st, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-68051-242-7
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Mountaineers Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2019


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