Sunday, April 13, 2008

Book Review: A Blistered Kind of Love

I first heard about this book written by Angela and Duffy Ballard while I was doing research for Sex in a Tent, and thought it would be great to interview the authors to get their stories and advice for other couples. Sadly, I never quite got around to doing that - or reading their book, since it was not available anywhere in New Zealand. So when G asked me if there was anything I'd like to add to an order he was placing through, I jumped on the chance to finally check out A Blistered Kind of Love.
The book is written in alternating "he said, she said" chapters by the two authors, about their attempt to thru-hike the 2,655-mile Pacific Crest Trail. At the time neither of them was an experienced backpacker, and they were not yet married or even engaged. This trip would put their skills, endurance, and relationship to the test in a big way. Throughout their journey they deal with knee pain, giardia, panic attacks, running out of water, and of course getting lost. It's enough to test even the most experienced of us!
What I loved about the book was how it addressed the way a long-distance hike affects your mind and your way of relating to other people. This is not a trip report, or a day-by-day account of the trail. Instead it's almost a sociological book. What made them fight? How did they get over those tough times? What prevented them from giving up when they were sick or hurt? How did they define success or failure on the trail?
After returning home, they seem to have done some homework about the differences between male and female attitudes and how their struggles might have been due to some of these Men are From Mars, Women are From Venus differences. When you spend all of your time with one other person in such extreme conditions, all of those little differences can seem awfully big and difficult to overcome.
If I have anything negative to say about the book, it's that it seems heavily edited and I would have liked to hear more about the trail itself. We get glimpses of the landscape and conditions, but not quite enough to really form a mental picture, or get a sense of its enormity.
Overall, I think this is a good read for anyone who hikes or backpacks with their partner. You'll almost certainly see yourselves somewhere in the book, and it's nice to know that you're not alone.

1 comment:

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