Read Becoming Odyssa: Epic Adventures on the Appalachian Trail by Jennifer Pharr Davis Online


After graduating from college, Jennifer isn't sure what she wants to do with her life. She is drawn to the Appalachian Trail, a 2175-mile footpath that stretches from Georgia to Maine. Though her friends and family think she's crazy, she sets out alone to hike the trail, hoping it will give her time to think about what she wants to do next. The next four months are the mosAfter graduating from college, Jennifer isn't sure what she wants to do with her life. She is drawn to the Appalachian Trail, a 2175-mile footpath that stretches from Georgia to Maine. Though her friends and family think she's crazy, she sets out alone to hike the trail, hoping it will give her time to think about what she wants to do next. The next four months are the most physically and emotionally challenging of her life. She quickly discovers that thru-hiking is harder than she had imagined: coping with blisters and aching shoulders from the 30-pound pack she carries; sleeping on the hard wooden floors of trail shelters; hiking through endless torrents of rain and even a blizzard. With every step she takes, Jennifer transitions from an over-confident college graduate to a student of the trail, braving situations she never imagined before her thru-hike. The trail is full of unexpected kindness, generosity, and humor. And when tragedy strikes, she learns that she can depend on other people to help her in times of need....

Title : Becoming Odyssa: Epic Adventures on the Appalachian Trail
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 11549219
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Becoming Odyssa: Epic Adventures on the Appalachian Trail Reviews

  • Diane
    2019-04-13 10:29

    I've read numerous hiking memoirs and this is one of the weaker ones. Jennifer has a good story -- hiking the Appalachian Trail solo when she was 21 -- but the writing was too florid and she had long digressions about her Christian faith and her relationship with God. I also found her naivete frustrating. She claimed she had been thinking about hiking the trail for years and had been preparing, so I had trouble believing that she didn't know she needed a water filter, or that she had to protect her food from bears, or that there would be mice in the trail shelters. Girl, I haven't walked a foot of the trail and even I know that stuff. She was either pretending to be stupid to gain sympathy or she really is that dense -- regardless of which one, it was annoying.However, once I got past her early fumblings and skimmed the God passages, I enjoyed reading about her adventures along the trail. The last chapter mentions that a few years after her first AT hike, she set the women's record for hiking it. She also went on to do other long-distance hikes, including the Pacific Crest and Colorado trails. Despite my complaints about the writing, Jennifer's story about how she became the hiker she is today is inspiring.

  • Katie Jean
    2019-03-27 04:46

    I cannot believe that there are not more raw reviews of this book! In the spirit of the author, here is my review: I tried really hard to like this author and her story but at about halfway through I could not stand her at all. She spends most of her time complaining about the people that she encounters on the trail and victimizes every situation that doesn't suit her. She defines herself by her faith but acts with little compassion and respect and a "better than you" attitude. Part of the story finds her, a grown woman, hiding in the bushes to avoid hiking with a man that she initially approached because she does not have the decency to simply tell him such. Seriously? Her trail journey starts out via her judging other's capability based upon their extroversion. This book is not so much a novel but rather a pretentious girl's diary about her complaints on the trail. I stopped reading at the point in which she encounters a suicide on the trail and goes on to be angry at the victim to have put her through something like that. Attitudes like that absolutely disgust me. The only thing that got me mostly through the book was an, "Oh my god, what will she do next," view. There is very little humility and depth going on in this book and I'd like to think that she has matured in her second book but I doubt I'll give it a chance after being sucked in to her petty drama in this book.

  • Ringo
    2019-04-18 07:48

    The author strikes me as one of those hypocrite Christians--constantly talking about how much she's into God and then a paragraph later criticizing someone else for... well... pretty much anything and everything. This girl has a serious problem with being a judgmental prude. She also makes fun of other people's religious choices. I am usually uplifted by AT thru hike accounts. This book left me with a sour taste in my mouth. I guess the author never heard the mantra "hike your own hike" because she sure thought that hers was the way to do it and said snarky awful things about others.

  • Shannon
    2019-04-15 04:29

    As an incredible athlete and an honest writer, I have respect for Davis. Her hiking ability is unrivaled and the attention to detail in this story impressive. Moreover, the presentation of a female perspective-- the depiction of the special difficulty women have in attempting to assure their own safety alone in a situation like the AT is important. I'm not sure that I could complete a thru-hike at all, never mind doing so at half her rate. However, I have to side with those who find this story, as a book meant to inspire others and be inclusive in its scope, to be self-involved and off-putting in its accounting. At the outset, despite being an agnostic myself, I found her religious openness refreshing. If Christianity was an important part of her journey, it's vital that it be included in an honest autobiography, and it's her book, so it's her right. However, the self-righteous tone of her specific religious interjections were still distracting further along. She speaks sanctimoniously of God's love for her to multiple people with no regard for the suffering they might have endured themselves and apparently no awareness of her privilege. Her general judgment of those around her, only to often conclude with, essentially, "oops! dirty bearded man I was forced to trust was nice after all! ain't God the best!?" comes off more naive and self-righteous than suits me. She felt superior to those who didn't have the money, health, or time to thru-hike with no awareness of how lucky she was to have that luxury. Add this to the fact (noted by others) that she went without any knowledge of how to filter water or prepare for the unknown, etc, does not make her any more praiseworthy a protagonist than anyone else who's ever completed a difficult endurance challenge, AT speed record holder or not.Essentially: I found her narrative somewhat intriguing due to my interest in the AT in general, but her "voice" distinctly unappealing.

  • Robyn
    2019-04-22 10:54

    I just started this book and was in tears in 5 minutes. Mostly because the topic is so close to my heart - a woman's journey on the Appalachian Trail. I just finished my 2nd hike on the AT in early September and already feel the pull to return. I love the way Jen describes her initial excitement and fears. She's clear about her mistakes and learning curves. So far, her descriptions are spot on. It's a difficult read for me because I miss the trail so much; it is such a part of my being and history. Now I need to be settled and doing other things but I feel I'm always planning how I can do another hike. For now, I will live vicariously through someone else's experience. Next day: won and done. This was an easy read but mostly because, like the AT, I was compelled to keep moving. I started it last night and finished it this morning. I cried in the beginning - excited and completely relating to Jen's anticipation - and I cried when it ended. I wanted to immediately pack my pack and head east. Again - for the billionth time - shed my things and pursue the life of aesthetic simplicity. Jen nails it - she describes the pain, the euphoria, the trepidation, the exhaustion and the ultimate joy. It's all here. The beauty of my life is that former thru-hikers will always have the trail experience in their heart. We can always return.

  • Thomas
    2019-04-22 06:37

    The author is the National Geographic Hiker of the Year Award for 2012, the current speed record holder for thru-hiking Appalachain Trail (2011), and a compelling writer. I could not put the book down, and read it in one day. How is it that this book isn't more widely read?How can it be that this book is absent on bookshelves in stores, while "Wild", Cheryl Strayed's account of a partial 1100 mile hike from 1995 on the Pacific Crest Trail is now known by practically everyone in America? It's got to be politics and marketing. I first heard about "Wild" sometime early in 2012, in a brief paragraph in Outside Magazine, focused on the fact that Knopf was publishing an initial 100,000 hardbound copies of the $26 book. They questioned how a book about hiking could be interesting, suggesting that they may not have even read it themselves. How could they? I scooted over to Amazon to look at the book, and check it out, where I learned that the book had not even been released to the pubic ! I didn't rate Wild very highly, because it wanted to read a book about backpacking, which doesn't appear in Wild until you've reached page 100. My own Goodreads review of that book is here . But enough with Wild, this is a much better book, a book that stands on its own as a personal account of what it is like to experience the Appalachian Trail, and also to grow up.Jennifer Davis was a complete novice when she completed her first thru-hike of the AT in 2005. At the time, she had never never slept alone, nor had she ever ate alone a restaurant. She endured far more discomfort than was necessary, due to her lack of knowledge about what to do out there. Farr Davis is believable, you feel for her loneliness, discomfort, and her considerable triumph. And to see what has become of her after her perseverance, visit her website at

  • Read, Run, Ramble
    2019-04-15 03:52

    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!

  • Jackie
    2019-04-08 06:34

    I enjoyed "Wild" so much that I went searching for similar books. This is one woman's story of her first time on the Appalachian Trail. I so admire the drive and physical ability to take something like this or the Pacific Coast Trail on. I was exhausted reading of all the miles covered, especially the side trips into town over miles then trekking back to pick up the trail. It was fascinating to learn of the shelters set up for thru-hikers and sometimes the politics and annoyances when weekend hikers would stop early in the day then spread their stuff all through the shelter leaving little room for others. Jen struggled with the thought that thru-hikers should be given priority but she maintained her cool and just asked for room for herself. I loved hearing about the relationships, good and bad, with other hikers. Some became great supportive friends while others didn't seem to understand the concept of wanting to hike alone. This book inspired me to think about what sort of goal I could set for myself that would be even half as fulfilling. Nothing has come to mind yet but hopefully I'll find something.

  • C
    2019-04-11 04:37

    Jennifer Pharr Davis is like a superhero but better. We are alike in some ways. We are only a year apart in age. We both spent part of 2005 in different areas of Maine. But Jennifer is the superhero. I couldn't imagine walking alone on the Appalachian Trail as a young female. I once tried to walk a couple miles around a lake after having eaten only a couple donuts the entire day and didn't get very far. As if I didn't think that was pathetic enough, imagine my shame when Jennifer hikes over 2,000 miles on a diet mostly consisting of junk food! Candy bars! Toaster pastries! The way she withstands the black flies alone amazes me. I've had the experience of dealing with black flies in Maine. They are ten times worse than mosquitoes. Jennifer says she starts to fall apart because most of her gear is falling apart, but I believe it is really due to those pesky black flies.I have already read a memoir about hiking the Appalachian Trail. I was worried this book wouldn't be as good as Bill Bryson's 'A Walk in the Woods' and maybe a bit redundant. Bryson is hilarious which made his book a favorite. Hilarity is here also in bits of 'Becoming Odyssa', maybe not as much as Bryson's book, but 'Becoming Odyssa' is important for so many other reasons. The humor is just a bonus. Bryson may go on interesting tangents, but Jennifer's book is much more courageous and inspirational. Jennifer is the sort of person you wish all memoirs were based on. I don't like reading memoirs about horrible people. From her writing, Jennifer seems like a genuine, kindhearted, amazing person. Her personality alone is something to aspire to. Her writing style makes it seem like she is a friend telling you her experiences. Jennifer goes through some tough stuff: a creepy stalker, being hit by lightning, a thru-hiker that reminded me of The Office's Dwight Schrute (though hilarious on TV is not someone I would want to be walking the Appalachian Trail with). One particular event Jennifer goes through is horrible and heartbreaking. But when she is doing well on the trail, it is lovely to read. You want to see her succeed on the trail. And she goes above and beyond succeeding. I really have nothing negative to say about this book. It is definitely a new favorite in the memoir genre. 'Becoming Odyssa' should be read by armchair hikers, those who actually are hikers and would like to read another persons experience, those planning on hiking the Appalachian Trail and trying to find a primer on the topic beforehand, or really anyone who likes a great adventure.

  • David
    2019-03-27 02:42

    I found this book incredibly dull for the most part, and only managed to finish I out of shear stubbornness. The trouble wasn't so much the book itself, rather with how it sets the expectations so far off from what it actually ends up being. For example, neither the description or first chapter Kindle sample gave me any hint at how much of the book would be focused on religion rather than the actual Appalachian Trail. In some places religion and spirituality were extremely relevant, but at many points it just seemed to grind on and distract from the topics I was hoping to read about.I know people will probably disagree with me on that point, or assume That I'm anti-religion. But if you replaced the talk of God and Faith with other topics, my criticism would remain: It's too much focus on one topic for a book marketed as being about another topic. All that said, there were some parts of this book that I enjoyed very much. And I do have a huge amount of respect for the author's accomplishments.

  • Lauren Henderson
    2019-03-30 06:38

    DNF. This book is probably the most boring outdoor adventure book I've ever read. I mean I'm sure she had some pretty awesome experiences while on the Appalachian Trail, but she's horrible at emotionally conveying her experiences. This book reads more like a step by step process, there really is no emotion. Her writing even comes off as somewhat snooty. I really did try to like it... I read about 25% just to make sure that it wasn't going to get better. I think the problem is that I love Wild. It also has the same premise - a woman decides to hike a long distance thru hike by herself. However, Cheryl Strayed is able to capture all of the emotion and convey the trail magic in a way that inspires and makes you feel like you could do this too. Becoming Odyssa just doesn't even compare. If you want to read a good adventure memoir just go read Wild. It's much more worth your time.

  • Corinne
    2019-04-11 05:34

    While I didn't like everything about this book, it captured me. I was reading it every chance I could get and forfeiting sleep to get a bit further. It follows Jenn Pharr Davis' (AT speed record holder) first trek on the Appalachian Trail when she was 21.As she writes the book it becomes more reflective and deep, which I like. This is probably a product of it being her first book. I overall was curious about her trip, and the things I didn't like are more of her personal choices on the trail. She ate a continuous stream of junk food, and didn't filter water. She complains about day hikers and short term campers like they don't deserve to be on the AT. I was disappointed in how much she did alone. She realized toward the end of the trip she wanted to share memories. I think I am more critical as an AT thru-hiker hopeful with my own goals. Her trip will likely look nothing like mine, but it was hers and it was something that impacted her.

  • Shelly♥
    2019-04-05 05:38

    This is the story of Jennifer Pharr (trail name: Odyssa) who at 21, decided to hike the Appalachian Trail alone. And it the hike from Georgia to Maine, she transforms her life, faces her fears, and embraces her inner Odyssa.Another great AT memoir. I loved it. The part that I find most fascinating is that the author has since set the speed record for hiking the trail. Not the women's speed record, the speed record. The adventure of her first hike is a coming of age journey, but also can touch the heart of anyone who has felt the need to truly find themselves.Highly recommend this one!

  • Melisa Gaspar de Alba
    2019-04-23 08:29

    I really enjoyed this book. Of course I love anything about hiking and backpacking. It wasn't action packed or anything but it was a great break from my textbooks. Since I am planning a week long AT hike this summer I enjoyed the details. I did notice that she didn't seem to complain or mention all the difficulties of backpacking on the AT as much as other similar books I have read. I loved the spiritual insights and experiences she had along the trail!

  • Heather
    2019-04-09 02:55

    i won this book on this site as a giveaway. the minute i picked it up i barely put it down. it's hard to explain the emotions that this book conjured up but one thing i know for sure....i cannot wait until spring so i can walk 10 minutes down my road and start hiking up that trail! Now, this book will be passed along to my neighbors who are dying to read it!

  • Belinda Woody
    2019-04-05 04:34

    Very descriptive book about hiking the Appalachian Trail.

  • Cindy Stavropoulos
    2019-04-19 05:33

    I am currently also trying to complete the AT in my lifetime by section hiking. It is as emotional, fun, smelly, difficult, courageous, etc., as the author describes. I related so well to the author. The peacefulness of the woods helps a person. It is not only good for the body but also the mind and soul. It is an interesting phenomenon. I’ve gained a new respect for a thru hiker and I hope the respect can be seen in reverse with a section hiker. Both are difficult tasks but definitely, thru hiking, is at another level that many (statistics prove it) do not complete. Odyssa’s jorney is a solo journey. Other reviews indicate that she’s a complainer and perhaps a bit judgmental and selfish. I didn’t see it that way at all. A thru hike would have to be one of the most difficult journeys of a lifetime. One would need to be aware of their surroundings every second of every day to just survive. Being a mentally and physically strong young female is what helped her achieve this goal. It’s very admirable. Great read!

  • Jamie
    2019-04-18 06:53

    An up close and personal memoir/travelogue of the author's first thru-hike journey on the Appalachian Trail. I was about half-way through the book when I realized that it was HER speed record that Scott Jurek recently beat in 2016. (This kind of physical endurance fascinates me, because it becomes more mental than physical. Enter another reference to the book 'Grit'.)

  • Ariel Rittenhouse
    2019-04-01 02:32

    I loved this book. I related with Jen's musings a lot and enjoyed her writing/story telling. It's a quick and easy read, but very inspiring to read about a woman's perspective of the Appalachian Trail- especially thru-hiking it solo as a 21-year old. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in thru-hiking, or someone that enjoys memoirs- from the perspective of a young woman. Not very technical about thru-hiking, much more contemplative philosophically but I definitely learned a few things about the AT.

  • Matthew Philips
    2019-04-05 06:55

    Disclaimer: I only read 59% of this book. It starts out really enjoyable, an unsure hiker finding herself and the way to get by on the trail somewhat similar to Wild by Cheryl Strayed. Once she settles into a groove, however, she begins bouncing between being judgmental of others, confrontationally religious or outright incorrect with facts. I just couldn't take anymore.

  • Mika Wallenius
    2019-04-16 05:54

    Davis’s first crossing of the AT is a captivating story that takes us through the emotional ups and downs that come with the endeavor: Fear, anger, euphoria, and a lot of misery.A word of warning. There is a lot of God in Davis’s writing. And All Of The Capitalization That Comes With Him. Communion with nature is a very personal thing and the language we use to describe it will differ from person to person. For Davis, nature and faith go hand-in-hand. Faith is the language she uses to express her experiences on the trail. Telling her story in any other way would be dishonest or incomplete.For those put off by faith, I urge you to read with this in mind and give the story a chance. It’s absolutely worth it.

  • Becky
    2019-03-27 04:29

    All right, let me get this out of the way- As a Christian Jennifer seemed very put upon by the world. She seemed convinced that her Christianity made her pariah, and I’m sorry, that attitude itself makes you a pariah. You hold yourself back and aloof and separate, and then that’s how you get treated. She automatically assumed that everyone would look down on her or aghast that she was a Christian, and when that’s what you think, you take everything as a slight. I’m also a Christian, but I have a huge issue with what I view as the martyr-complex of American Christians. As a Christian who has spent PLENTY of time outside, abroad, and around this country, I’ve never felt that anyone was going to rub my Christianity in my face… and they haven’t… probably because I’m not rubbing my spiritualism in their face. I’ve never felt among hippies or anywhere else that anyone held my faith against me, because I don’t hold it against myself. Sometimes we agreed to disagree, but among adults I’ve never had what I would call a negative interaction where someone tried to insult or degrade my faith. So yes, Jennifer’s assumption that New Englander’s were necessarily godless, or that she was just *such* an outcast, annoyed me. Her personal prayers to god or her reflections on the beauty he created, however, I thought were nice. I think anyone that finds themselves in such remote places feels a sort of spiritualism about them, even if that spiritualism doesn’t necessarily take a religious form. Its hard to be confronted with that much beauty and not be in awe, in awe either of eons of nature running its course or in awe of the idea of intelligent design. So those parts bothered me not at all, but they are sort of pervasive in the book, and its only fair to mention that if it isn’t your cup of tea.Second thing- I have a hard time understanding how anyone can have enough of a spine to walk the AT alone but be so subservient and meek in personal relationships. I work with almost all women, and I’m constantly telling them (nicely) to grow a spine, to claim their own voice, to be heard and stand tall. These are things that Jennifer did wonderfully on the trail and to the trail, until someone came along. I understand being worried about how a man might react to advances when you are alone, you do need to be worried for your safety, but you also need to assert yourself. Don’t be a coward or a liar. Be strong, and be honest. It was hard for me to read through those sections because I always try to be kind but outspoken. Perhaps I am reading it wrong, or perhaps it’s just the interactions she chose to share, she certainly had a lot of good relationships on the trail that she spoke very highly of, and those were great to read. All that said- I sincerely want to congratulate Jennifer on all her feats, not just this walk on the trail, but on her other hikes as well. I do think that she does good work for the outdoors, especially for women in the outdoors. I particularly loved that this book highlighted the pains and deprivations of the trail. I feel like too many books gloss over the times that their authors were in pain, but Jennifer goes into the rashes, welts, blisters, hunger and coldness. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone that was really considering walking the trail, because I think she does a better job than a lot talking about the grit necessary to keep going through pain. No pain, no Maine. Other points were weaker than some other books I’ve read, I thought AWOL on the Appalachian Trail did a better job talking about the nature and sites you see and the community you feel, A Walk in the Woods was just frankly hilarious, but they all have something unique to share. I say read them all. Its basically what I am doing :D

  • Heidi
    2019-04-01 04:51

    This was another Appalachian Trail memoir, this one by the woman who set the speed record (for women) in 2008 for doing the 2,175 mile trail in 57 days. This memoir isn't about that journey, however; it's about her first Appalachian Trail completion a few years earlier when she was 21 and a recent university graduate.The tales of the trail, its highs and lows, the blisters and the sunsets, the stalkers and the unexpected friends, were wonderful. Odyssa/Jen reminded me why I like to hike (although I prefer the sorts of hikes which have huts, warm meals, and hot showers waiting at the end of each day). Doing something like the Appalachian Trail seems to be as much mental effort as physical effort, and I'm glad I could experience it through a book.But on the other hand, spending 2,175 miles inside Jen's head was uncomfortable. The side of herself that she showed in this book was sanctimonious and judgmental, and I got tired of reading page after page about how "tourists" couldn't appreciate beauty, that people she met at restaurants could afford to lose a few pounds, and how surprised she was every time a scary-looking person turned out to be kind. She's also unabashedly Christian, and I had trouble resolving her Christian monologues with the fact that she couldn't stand most of the people she met.The book is also error-ridden, with capital letters and punctuation marks frequently missing. I don't think it would have bothered me as much if I wasn't already irritated with the author.This book was fine but there are better Appalachian Trail memoirs out there. I suggestAWOL on the Appalachian Trail orA Walk in the Woods instead.

  • Aaminah Shakur
    2019-03-31 10:30

    This was a "first read" opportunity and i admit i signed up to get it thinking of a friend whose dream is to walk the Appalachian Trail. i told her i would read it first to do a review for GoodReads (in thanks to the publisher for sending it to me free) and then send it on to her. i wasn't really looking forward to this book, thinking it would be dull and uninteresting to me, but i was wrong.This book tells the true story of a just-graduated college student with no idea what she wants to do with her life. She becomes a bit obsessed with the idea of hiking the Appalachian Trail by herself, a daunting feat for anyone. i really expected the writing to be uninspired, since it's not like Pharr Davis is suggesting that she is a professional writer, but either she should be or she had the benefit of an excellent editor. The writing itself is good and the story flows very well. Of course, such an adventure would naturally have sufficient drama without requiring any fancy explanations. There is not a boring moment in the book, though there is a lot of reflection to balance out trail-stories. There are some profoundly sad moments, and chapter 15 should have had (in blogging parlance) a "trigger warning". Mostly it is an uplifting and inspiring story of a young woman making an amazing accomplishment.The only "issue" i had with the book is that it's just shy of proselytizing at times. Granted it is a personal story and the physical and emotional journey *is* also a spiritual journey, as i imagine it would be for many of us. Every time i was beginning to be uncomfortable with the religious overtones, however, Pharr Davis moved on.

  • Erin Charpentier
    2019-04-10 03:35

    I have incredible respect for Davis' athleticism, especially with regard to the trails she's conquered since her first through hike. I needed an easy read, as well, after finishing a difficult book yesterday. I was able to finish this in one sitting.That said, I found her voice incredibly annoying, as well as her somewhat condescending tone. Apologies to the people of Pennsylvania because Davis apparently thinks your state is trash and full of scary people. She was also, in parts, incredibly naive. She took a class on through hiking, claimed to have done a great deal of research--and yet, she was apparently hiking in synthetic socks and couldn't figure out why her feet were so destroyed. In another part of the novel, she found a baggie containing marijuana on the side of the trail and picked it up, continuing to express her shock that she found drugs on the trail for the remainder of the chapter. Listen, I don't do drugs, but for heavens sake, it's not like she found a bag of heroin and needles. All of that said, I have the utmost respect for anyone who thru-hikes, especially those who do it alone. Although she would often meet others on the trail and seemed to get lucky with trail angels, there were still nights she spent alone and that thought is incredibly overwhelming to me. I hope to one day be lucky enough to thru-hike the Pacific Crest Trail, so I do appreciate that she is gracious about the hard work that got her to that spot but also seemed to recognize her fortune in doing so.

  • Ann
    2019-04-10 02:58

    Never in a million years would I want to do what Jen did — to have done it, maybe, but to do it — to hike 2175 miles solo as a 21-year-old female in a male-dominated environment through some of our nation's roughest terrain in miserably cold weather, battling ravenous flies and festering feet, surviving on energy bars and streamwater, sleeping on bumpy ground or the floorboards of a trail shelter alone or with strangers, toting wet gear in a chafing backpack, conniving to escape a stalker — no thanks! But I enjoyed the vicarious experience precisely because I didn't have to do it. I came to care about Jen and the overwhelming number of good people she met on the trail, where everyone is known only by a fanciful trail name, like Snowstepper, Mooch, Texas Ranger, Nightwalker, Raptor; and where local angels provide "trail magic" or offer to "slackpack" hikers on their way (go ahead and Google the definitions). Jen, aka "Odyssa," is an idealistic and rather naive college graduate when she sets out at Unicoi Gap, Georgia, to hike 50.9 miles south to the trailhead at Springer Mountain and then do a flip-flop, i.e. return to Unicoi Gap to thru-hike the rest of the trail north. When she reaches the top of Mount Katadhin, Maine, 4 months later, she is a different person — hence the title Becoming Odyssa. Her adventures along the way and her incredible determination in face of adversity provide both suspense and entertainment. I bought the book after hearing the author speak and feeling drawn to her story. I was not disappointed.

  • Jenni
    2019-03-27 03:35

    Absolutely solid, five star read for me through and through, and easily one of the BEST thru-hiking memoirs (PCT or AT) I've read so far!I just finished another thru-hiking memoir written by a girl of similar age (see my review of Girl in the Woods) and this one was such a refreshing read from the former - well written, honest, lacking in drama and pretentiousness. The author set out to do the hike, had some interesting experiences along the way, spent quite a bit of time soul searching and making some honest assessments of her life, and concluded the journey with evidence of growth and self-discovery.Most importantly, for me at least, this was a book about hiking the AT, versus some drama-filled rant with some hiking thrown in. It thoroughly discussed the walk, the scenery, the challenges, the few mistakes she made along the way. Although some reviewers criticized her lack of in-depth descriptions of the scenery, I found it rather refreshing that she gave more simpler images of her walk, because ultimately every one doing this walk would see things differently, anyway. The fact that the author was a likable, relatable person also made this book that much more enjoyable. For being young, she had a refreshingly mature and positive attitude, was drama free, resilient and smart. And she accomplished a kick ass feat in completing the hike, so a little of braggadocio is warranted!

  • KyneWynn
    2019-03-27 07:44

    This book almost made me want to hike the Appalachian Trail -- which I probably won't do. However, it has inspired me to start doing daily walks again, and that is something. (I could totally see my daughter, Jaimie, my self-described bohemian child, doing this.) I love that I learned so much. I had heard of the Appalachian Trail, but I didn't know very much about it. After reading this book, I feel like I am at least conversant with the lingo.I enjoyed the vicarious journey and at the beginning her naivete, and how as she journeyed she learned about being a hiker, on a long-term hike, and I loved the parallel journey she experienced as she learned about herself and deepened her relationship with God. She did have many trying times - and complaints. I was saved from being bothered by the litany of complaints by her attitude about them, and the fact that in spite of the challenges the trail presented, she persevered in her quest. And the writing itself was easy to read, I rather liked the voice and the prose.

  • Ellen
    2019-04-21 04:30

    Becoming Odyssa is the inspiring story of a solo female thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail. It would be unfair to compare this book to the only other book I've read about the Trail (Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods") because it is not necessarily a story of the trail itself but of the woman who hikes it. That said, Pharr Davis comes into her own as a writer as Odyssa (her trail name) comes into her own as a hiker. After a slow start of "I woke up early and hiked all day" to more promising discussions of faith, self-doubt, love and conflict on the trail...I was sucked in. I knew what the end had in store but the journey was the interesting part. Although I initially wanted to see more photos of the trail and Odyssa's companions but I think the decision not to include them validates Pharr Davis' pronouncement that on the trail people aren't judged by their appearance but by their words and actions; everyone looks dirty and scruffy on the trail. In the interest of full disclosure, I received this book as Goodreads giveaway and anything I say can and will be held against me.

  • Jennifer
    2019-04-21 03:33

    A balanced response: This is a, reasonably, well written book about the Appalachian Trail suitable for anyone with an interest in the AT. Ms. Davis' drive, stamina, endurance and tolerance of discomfort are commendable and worthy of praise. Reading through her journey from floundering recent college grad to woman who knows what she is made of with a solid idea of where she wants to go was very good to read and again, commendable on the author's part. Still, the word 'sanctimonious' came to mind one hundred times while reading 'Becoming Odyssa'. Ms. Davis' opinion of herself as thru-hiker and herself in general is outstandingly high. The hike this book is based on occurred in 2005 when the author was 22 years old. This book, published in 2010, is filled with the prose of a 22 year old girl, self-indulgent and arrogant - these are tough things to overcome as a reader. Not as tough as a 2100 mile hike but still.