Okay - first off, it didn't take me almost a year to read this book!! I started it last year and got sidetracked with book club books and reviews I was trying to finish up. So I started fresh after the first of the year.
This is my first AT memoir and I thoroughly enjoyed it. From the people Pharr Davis encountered to the situations in which she found herself, I was intrigued the entire way. One of the first things I found after starting is that I wanted to visit this trail. I'm not a hiker, I've never been a hiker, and I'd probably make for a horrible hiker, but Pharr Davis brings the trail to life here and into perspective as well.
The stark difference between our harried existence of today and the blissful, quiet of nature (especially at the AT) is mesmerizing. Her descriptions of her lone segments made me hunger for the opportunity to experience such a beautiful place in complete silence. No interruptions, no jumping from obligation to obligation, no littered, oily highways or sidewalks...just pure nature and all it has to offer.
I've read through some of the recent reviews and was surprised by some of the reactions to this book and the negativity shown towards the author because she wrote so much about her relationship with God and complained or whined a lot. I enjoyed her reflection on her faith and her relationship with God. I think that was one of the most defining portions, for her, on the journey. As I would expect it would be of any Christian. I also enjoyed the fact that she didn't handle all of the "discomforts" of the trail with a smiley, happy demeanor because let's be honest - that would be total untruth. Pharr Davis made it clear that she was uncomfortable and that she seriously contemplated quitting during the book. She made it clear that this was not a recreational hike (as did her mentor in the beginning of the book), but instead a trying, frustrating, mentally & emotionally draining job.
Had she treated her trials like she was running around with unicorns on rainbows it would have made for quite a different and less satisfying book.
From someone who had no previous AT knowledge, has never really hiked a day in her life, and is the epitome of the busyness this world has created - go read this book; you will appreciate what it has to offer!