In this romance novel, an avid backpacker finds the true meaning of her existence, and overcomes her past, while taking on new experiences during her retirement.
Demi, a divorced mother and schoolteacher for troubled youth, finds herself most at peace when she is hiking the Sierra Nevada. She has surrounded herself with like-minded friends who handle Demi’s various fears, such as vertigo, with compassion. When Demi goes online and meets an Australian outdoor adventurer, her life takes on new meaning. The two fly around the world to be with each other in various outdoor locales. If they can’t be together, phone calls and emails keep them connected. With each trip, Demi has an epiphany that heals old wounds. While indoor scenes; e.g., Demi’s experiences in a classroom or a coffee shop, are a bit disjointed, the outdoor events are more fluid. The protagonist’s experiences with wildlife and her surroundings in the Australian Outback or mountains of California are vivid and detailed: “The muted greens of the eucalypt forests encapsulated by soft mosses created a cave like atmosphere. The bottomlands oozed spongy soils.” These passages fit well within the larger context since this is where Demi is most comfortable. Demi’s feelings about her abuse, however, don’t quite mesh with the larger narrative. Not until the end of the novel do the disparate plot points begin to coalesce. The narrative flips from first person to third person, and long conversations without attribution may confuse readers. In addition, the mythology loosely tied into the storyline is more distracting than revelatory.
An interesting but incongruous attempt to render a hiker’s quest.