An adventurous American mountain biker's journey of self-discovery in Afghanistan.
"It's a place I'm inexplicably drawn to—wanting to understand it in hopes that I may understand myself,” writes Galpin, whose life was derailed by a violent attack and rape in her early 20s. She later helped with fundraising to help girls' schools in Afghanistan, and she became the first American woman to mountain bike in Afghanistan. Since then, she has made several trips there, developing relationships and pursuing her own brand of activism. Full of vivid anecdotes, the narrative is most enjoyable when recounting the author’s chronicles of her travel and interactions with Afghans. Galpin also takes us through her divorce and her struggles as a single mother in Boulder while founding her nonprofit, Mountain2Mountain, to promote "the power of voice" through support of the arts and bike riding by women. Eventually, this led to a photography exhibit in Afghanistan, a TED talk, her meeting with the Afghan women's national cycling team, and her creation of an international program, Strength in Numbers. The power of voice is a constant theme, though what exactly that power amounts to in either the political or spiritual realm remains somewhat vague. Galpin seems anxious about being heard, sometimes to the point of undermining the power of her book with long sections in which she defends her choices as a mother and activist and airs her frustrations with the world of nonprofit organizations. Her many descriptions of uniformly upbeat banter with her young daughter also feel indirectly defensive. However, her respect and love for the Afghan people is apparent, as are her nerve and determination to help those in need.
An uneven but ultimately inspiring personal story of an American mountain biker finding her vocation as an international activist.