Read Not Without My Father: One Woman's 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace by Andra Watkins Online

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"One literary ride you do not want to miss!" - The Huffington Post Nominated for the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction, the Sarton Memoir Award and the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for Autobiographies and Memoirs Can an epic adventure succeed without a hero? Andra Watkins needed a wingman to help her become one of the only living persons to walk the historic 444-mile"One literary ride you do not want to miss!" - The Huffington Post Nominated for the 2015 National Book Award for Nonfiction, the Sarton Memoir Award and the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award for Autobiographies and Memoirs Can an epic adventure succeed without a hero? Andra Watkins needed a wingman to help her become one of the only living persons to walk the historic 444-mile Natchez Trace as the pioneers did. She planned to walk fifteen miles a day. For thirty-four days. After striking-out with everyone in her life, she was left with her disinterested eighty-year-old father. And his gas. The sleep apnea machine and self-scratching. Sharing a bathroom with a man whose gut obliterated his aim. As Watkins trudged America's forgotten highway, she lost herself in despair and pain. Nothing happened according to plan, and her tenuous connection to her father started to unravel. Through arguments and laughter, tears and fried chicken, they fought to rebuild their relationship before it was too late. In Not Without My Father: One Woman's 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace, Watkins invites readers to join her dysfunctional family adventure in a humorous and heartbreaking memoir that asks if one can really turn 'I wish I had' into 'I'm glad I did.'...

Title : Not Without My Father: One Woman's 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 24489578
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 258 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Not Without My Father: One Woman's 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace Reviews

  • Melinda
    2019-05-27 12:04

    After reading her debut novel To Live Forever, I instantly became an Andra Watkins fan. Her story of Meriwether Lewis and the Natchez Trace left an impression. Needless to say, when I learned of her next endeavor chronicling her actual walk of the Natchez Trace, I was anxious to read of her courageous and bold adventure."I almost forgot about my book. I risked my life to convince people to try my novel, because I thought if I demonstrated dedication to my story, a few more people might read it."I have the utmost respect for Andra Watkins accomplishing her goal of walking the Natchez Trace solo, only her determination and endurance serving as her buttress. Physically and mentally demanding, emotions running high, Andra discovers inner peace as she pushes through her body's screams, her mettle tested, the uncooperative harshness of natures elements. Her father serving as 'wingman' of sorts, their strained relationship revitalized and resuscitated as the journey bridges the fissure between these two spirited and stubborn individuals.I appreciate Andra's candor with exposing her issues long held within regarding her parents. Capable writing skills, feelings in black and white font add tenderness to an already sentimental narrative. Her quick wit, wry humor and huge heart endear her to readers. Her father is a hoot, truly a one-man-show. No doubt the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. With all certitude Andra has material for a novel based solely on her father, his stories alone worthy of sharing, a man larger than life possessing a very vibrant personality. I enjoyed the intimate glimpse of these two rebuilding their rented bond.A story I found inspiring on a physical as well as emotional level. Andra excelled in making a memory singularly and plurally.

  • Liz Yon)
    2019-05-30 05:36

    I rarely read memoir, but being a dedicated fan of Andra Watkins's work, I stepped outside my reading box and sat down with her tale of her amazing trek along the 444-mile Natchez Trace, accompanied by her 80-year old father. I'm so glad I did! The feat of walking the Trace would have been enough to make a fascinating read (and, to play on words, Ms. Watkins's feet certainly gave their all for the venture). But, Not Without My Father delivers the surprise, and the emotional wallop, of another story interwoven with that of the hike. It is the story of a father and daughter, finding each other beyond the wall of their own bumpy history; beyond the differences in their perspectives and approaches to life. They found solidarity in conquering the long journey along the Natchez Trace, both of them battling to finish what they'd begun despite poor health and injury, insane weather and unforeseen obstacles. With unvarnished honesty, Ms. Watkins tells the story of how they reached the end of the Trace, together and supporting one another. Her voice, always genuine, is amused, cranky, and filled with wonder by turns. I laughed aloud by page two, and I shed a fair measure of tears, too, by the end. Not Without my Father is a gorgeous, powerful paen to the ties that bind sweetest, even when they chafe.

  • Carrie
    2019-05-31 06:42

    I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the audiobook version of this book on a long car drive over the holidays. Hearing about the author's struggles in her daily 15-mile walks as she traveled the Natchez Trace by foot kept me plowing ahead in my own long travels. The memoir is both humorous and touching as the author makes the 444-mile journey with her father in tow (he drives the car to pick her up at the end of the day's walk). During the 34-day journey, their sometimes troubled relationship comes to a head, as does the author's relationship with her mother, who joins them for the final weeks. Though we all have different life circumstances, many readers will relate to the issues of aging parents and complicated family dynamics.The author narrates the book herself and does a beautiful job. There's also a nice interview with the author at the end as well as a touching discussion by her father about his experience in the 1961 University of Georgia riot sparked by desegregation. "Not Without My Father" is a great book that will make you laugh, think, feel, and relate.

  • Aguess
    2019-06-05 05:44

    This was an advanced reader copy. In the effort of full disclosure, I am described in this memoir/travelogue. Acting as Watkin's wingman for the first week of her epic journey. That being said - I loved this book. It is an illuminating portrait of the evolution of her relationship with her parents that parallels her journey through the epicenter of American history, traditions, and landscape that is the Natchez Trace. Andra invests her tale with the warmth, humor and grace that she observed in her parents lives. Through her account of the trials and joys of her own life journey with her larger than life Dad and her Southern Belle mom, Andra urges us to brave our own familial demons and go out and make stories with our loved ones. Absolutely worth the trip!

  • Rachel Watkins
    2019-05-26 08:44

    I love memoirs and this one hit close to home. I spent countless hours of my childhood as a passenger in a big yellow Chevy Impala on the Natchez Trace travelling from my home in Columbus, Mississippi to see my grandparents in Jackson, Mississippi. It was a route my parents travelled once month for years. Those rest stops, the sign for French Camp, the historic signs - these memories are the fabric of my childhood. Andra Watkins's memoir of her walking the Natchez Trace is one of family secrets, family folklore, and finally coming to realize what her father's stories truly meant. I loved it!

  • John W. Howell
    2019-06-12 13:53

    Not Without My Father by Andra Watkins is part memoir and part a chronicle of an amazing journey along the 444 mile Natchez Trace. The story itself could stand on its own as a mesmerizing tale of an adventure of a forty-five-year-old women coming to grips with her conflicted feelings about her parents. Yet even more is added with the observations of the trace itself as well as the historical context which Ms. Watkins describes so well. She asks her father to accompany her on the adventure as a wingman of sorts. He reluctantly agrees but thinks it will not be much fun. The reader gets the opinion early on that father and daughter do not necessarily see eye to eye on what is best for the other. It could be each is most concerned with what is best for them. So it is no surprise when the father seems taken with his own importance and the daughter regretting the fact he is along since she thought the father would be more attentive to her needs. As the story unfolds it is clear Father and daughter have not been very good at conveying their love for each other.The trip then becomes an adventure in discovery of how each feels at their time of life. The good news is the trip also brings out a strong desire in both to make memories of the here and now.This is a very strongly composed and a very well crafted book. The story flows with a pace that keeps the action moving from one marker to the next. Ms. Watkins has taken the technique of telling scenarios in the story from two perspectives and it works quite well. The reader gets a real sense of understanding both sides of each issue as articulated by the father and the daughter. There is an element of suspense in that there is a possibility that things won't work out due to the strong personalities involved.I would recommend this book to all readers as it contains elements of each genre which will delight those who have a favorite. There are whimsy and thrilling moments. The whole story seems like a tale that was crafted to stand a significant test of time. I believe this book will be read by future generations and will benefit from some of the lessons in patience and understanding as well as a sense of the difficulty surrounding the original trek by Meriwether Lewis.

  • Lisa
    2019-06-04 11:49

    Full disclosure: I appear in this book. It's a little surreal reading about your own experience through the eyes of another person--someone whom you had only met in the virtual world of blog writing, and yet who you spontaneously decided to join on what was, perhaps, one of the biggest adventures of her life. I had many reasons to join Andra on the Natchez Trace, but that is a story for another time, another place (another memoir?). I also, don't know how to review a person's memoir. How do you comment on someone's memory or interpretation of their own life experience? How do you respond to something so personal as the journey of a woman who simultaneously walks the 444 mile Natchez Trace and redefines her relationship with her aging father in powerful and life changing ways?I think the only way you can really respond to someone else's memoir is by how much you connect with the journey and the hidden lessons inside it. I have read memoirs that seem like pure self-indulgence, where I cannot see or understand the universal life lessons and just felt like I was reading someone's private journal. Andra's story is not like that. She is honest, and shares many private (and sometimes disturbing moments) but it is in that honesty that we can find the truths that we all understand and can relate too:*the dream of doing something that leaves our mark on the world*for writers the unspoken fantasy that somehow we will beat the odds and wake up one day as best selling authors*the yearning to feel love and share special moments with our parents*the fears we face as we watch them age, and feel our lives stretching forward and backward.Andra's book does all these things and more. My tears started flowing during my own chapter in it--not just because of my own memories but because I realized a truth that touches my life. I am "without my father" and I so wish I wasn't. This book is for anyone who has a dream, but fears the journey. It is for anyone who struggles to find meaning in life. I am honored to have been even the smallest part of that, and it gives me hope that somehow I'll carve my own path. However, I most likely won't walk 444 miles to do it.

  • Michael Carnell
    2019-06-01 05:47

    I kept having to stop while reading "Not Without My Father". I kept having to stop and think. I was thinking of my own father and other people in my life who I have taken for granted or not spent the time with that I should. While there are quite a few good laughs in this book, it is not a bouncy rainbows and unicorns type family story. It is an honest look at a hard personal journey of discovery and connections that is mirrored the author's own person journey to walk the Natchez Trace. Her father accompanies her on that walk, via comfortable car of course, to guide, protect and promote her. As any dad should. But this is not so easy a relationship. Along the way old wounds are revealed and feelings left unsaid, both good and bad, are voiced. And then there is mom. Mom throws a whole other spice in to the brew.As I read "Not Without My Father" I thought about my dad. And just as importantly I thought about both my son and daughter. I had to pause to wonder what baggage I was leaving them with, and what tools as well to help them on their journey. Were the experiences I shared with my family, all of my family, what I really wanted to leave them with. And most importantly, had I been present in their lives? Was I there, paying attention, and participating?We can't blame all of our distractions on electronics. There have always been distractions - friends, work, reading, hobbies, golf, whatever. But the key is do we set aside these distractions to be with those people important to us. Or maybe include the family in our hobbies so it is a time of bonding instead of separation?But I digress away from this book. I guess that is because this is the type of book it is - a book to be read on multiple levels. You can read the story of Andra Watkins's walk and the experiences and people, but you can also read the story of a personal journey. A journey of discovery and growth. And from there you can find lessons for your own life.I highly recommend this book, but more so I recommend you read it and then discuss it with those important to you.

  • C-shaw
    2019-05-30 08:44

    I don't like this woman OR her father, don't appreciate her cynical and uncharitable view of her family, don't respect her motivations for the 444-mile walk nor her poor-me outlook on her privileged (in my estimation) life; nevertheless, the story of her walk is very interesting to me, and neither did/do I like ole Cheryl Strayed, but I very much enjoyed reading _Wild_ also. Let's see whether I change my opinion by the end of the book. . . . Oh yes, at the risk of being overly critical, a trait I abjure in other reviewers, neither do I like her overblown use of ellipses either (girl, the rule is three if you're leaving out a sentence or less, and four if more than one sentence, not a half-dozen for emphasis) and her constant, gross referral to her damaged feet as being filled with "puss." The word is "pus," you putz! Gee, that was quite a rant for someone who doesn't like mean people, isn't it? Bottom line is I am enjoying the book quite a lot, believe it or not!!* * * * *Okay, I'm finished, and I didn't really change my opinion. Andra Watkins writes well and I liked hearing about her journey, but she told such horrid things about her parents - personal bathroom things that shouldn't be mentioned in public - and was hyper-critical of both, all the while talking about how she loved them and craved being closer to her father. She put the onus on him for their unconnected relationship, but perhaps she should consider her own culpability. She was a good enough writer than I looked at her book about Meriweather Lewis, thinking I might read it. . . Well, it's not a biography, but rather an imagined reincarnation of him in current times. What the hay? I ain't going there, sorry, Andra.

  • Tori
    2019-06-07 06:34

    Having rewritten Meriwether Lewis's final steps, the author sets out to retrace history by trekking the entire span of The Natchez Trace. As she forges ahead,reader & hiker alike begin to cultivate a deep understanding & appreciation for the brutal, beautiful experience of traveling through an unknown wilderness alone, relying only on self & skies & the occasional pick-me-up sight of a field of daffodils.Ever present on the sidelines is Andra's larger-than-life father, Roy. As she forces herself to acknowledge & honor the quirks & hardships of herself and those who hiked The Trace before her, the reader glimpses a softening towards her father. What begins as a desire to try not to "kill each other" for the duration of the author's hike subtly weaves into a calm understanding of his history, his hardships, his quirks and how they have shaped him as a father & her as his daughter. As The Trace winds on, the reader is treated to a parallel journey: a writer moving towards the end of a personal test of endurance, a daughter moving towards a personal test of love & acceptance.This book is the very best kind of story: real, human, funny and bittersweet and refreshingly honest. It is a love letter to those we don't fully understand, the kind that starts with "I can't stand you" and ends with "I can't stand to be without you". A breathtaking piece of work. Not Without My Father: One Woman's 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace

  • Cheryl Smithem
    2019-06-07 13:34

    Andra Watkins' frank self-appraisal* of her walk, ostensibly to promote her previous book, To Live Forever, is a self-revelation with deep heart. Andra chose to hike the paved Natchez Trace and found herself hiking into her family--farts and all. She chose her father as her constant companion--hoping he would help her with the daily ground work of getting on with it. During the course of her 444 (or 442 mile) walk, she learns more about herself, connects with her family history, the natural world and learns to slow down, to hear the birds and the whispers of history.She completes her walk with a new appreciation of the brief span that we each have on this planet, partly inspired by the story of Meriwether Lewis and in part by her father, Roy Lee Watkins. Andra realizes that our connections are all that we have tying us to this realm. She comprehends that to know ourselves is to know our families. She learns that as much as we hope that we can endure the body's frailty, that at some point in our future, we all must prepare to meet our ending.Andra finds herself with broken, bruised, abused feet at her walk's end but with a new understanding of what endurance really is.*Note: I had an advance reading copy of this book.

  • Donofalltrades
    2019-05-30 06:35

    I went into this book expecting very little because I knew nothing of the Natchez Trace Parkway and even less about this author, and besides, how riveting can a 444 mile walk be?Well, not since Stephen King's "The Long Walk" has a book about a person walking down a road ever been so awesome to read. I don't know how many others there are in the road walking upon genre, but this book was one of those I couldn't put down.For me, the joy of the book was identifying myself and my own family with those in the book. As not only the son of a man who was stingy with praise, but the father of a daughter who has to try harder than he should to make sure she knows how much I love her, I appreciated a lot of what the struggles in this book were about.This book is about relationships and making sure that we find time to be with the ones we love, if even only for small amounts of time, like a day trip or just calling a friend for dinner. The trip is somehow put on the back burner because what's going on with the characters is so well written, but at the end of the day, Andra's walk along the trail is an amazing feat of mental and physical endurance as well.

  • Shante
    2019-06-05 06:42

    I leave this book feeling full of gratitude for the beautiful souls who light my life and conscious of the moments. I am a fan! I was so enchanted by Andra's story: her resilience throughout her journey, her determination, her relationship with her parents. I expected this book to be a good read, but never would I have imagined it to be soul rocking. Sometimes you have to stop and smell the roses (or smog, whatever just take it all in). Because we only have one life to live and memories won't create themselves. I can't thank Andra enough for sharing her story with me. I am inspired.In terms of review: in a nutshell, it's the story of a woman who walks the entirety of the Natchez Trace Parkway (442 miles). On her journey her life transitions and she finds herself appreciating the moments and the people. Simple yet beautiful read.At the end she encourages her readers to make memories and share them on social media with the hashtag #NWMFMakeaMemory. Will be doing!

  • Robert Johnson
    2019-06-09 12:38

    Superficially this book is a departure for Ms. Watkins. Her first book is a historico/romance/gothic/ghost story with a twist, i.e. a novel. An excellent and rollicking tale, indeed. Not Without My Father is a travelogue, personal reflection, and true adventure wrapped up in the form of a memoir. It too is excellent. When the book is published I already know I am getting three copies to give to significant people in my family.Yet in the end both books have a common theme. A girl/woman searching for her father, looking for connection, protection, understanding, and the ability to separate while growing close.For the rest, it is well written, gripping, and well worth your time. Both books are well worth your time.

  • Mareena
    2019-05-29 06:34

    In March of 2014, to celebrate the release of her debut novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis, Andra Watkins planned an ambitious journey of her own. She planned to walk the historic 444-mile Natchez Trace just as the pioneers did. Her trek would last for thirty-four days, at fifteen miles per day. Ambitious, perhaps almost impossible, but at the end of her monumental endeavor, Andra Watkins could claim the distinction of being the first living person to walk the entire length of the historic Natchez Trace - all the way from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville Tennessee.However, the question foremost in her mind was: Can such an epic adventure succeed without a hero? So, Andra decided that she needed a wingman; someone to cheer her on, inspire her, and help her to achieve the incredible goal that she had set for herself. To that end, Andra listed several potential names.After striking out with everyone else in her life, Andra was left with her disinterested eighty-year-old father. And his explosive gas; his indelicate self-scratching; the blaring television, which competed nightly with the sleep apnea machine. Sharing a bathroom with a man whose gut obliterated his aim. To Andra, her plan was pure insanity: herself and her father, together in close quarters; for thirty-four days? If it were in any way possible; this was a recipe for true disaster, bound to derail rather spectacularly at any point along the way.As she trudged along America's forgotten highway, Andra lost herself in despair and pain. Nothing went according to plan, and her tenuous connection to her father started to unravel. Through arguments and laughter, tears and fried chicken, father and daughter struggled to rebuild their relationship with each other before it was too late.Amid the endlessly repetitive stories told enthusiastically to strangers; and the embarrassing instances of fatherly promotion of her novel, Andra invites readers to join her dysfunctional family adventure in this humorous and heartbreaking memoir that asks if one can really turn 'I wish I had' into I'm glad I did'.I must say that I enjoyed reading this book immensely. In my opinion, this was a beautifully written story; poignant and funny, but also extremely moving. I was consistently reminded while I read this book that in everyone's life, no matter how difficult the relationship may become with a loved one, there are always certain special moments or memories that can never be forgotten. I give Not Without my Father: One Woman's 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace by Andra Watkins a definite A! Andra has also set a challenge for her readers for this year: she wants us all to experience life, and to make a memory with that special someone for 2015! She would love to hear about her readers' special memories if they wish to share them with her at mystories@andrawatkins.com. Andra promises to read every submission that she receives and highlight them on her website.

  • Story Circle Book Reviews
    2019-05-29 05:40

    Cheryl Strayed walked the Pacific Crest Trail and wrote about it in Wild. Bill Bryson walked the Appalachian Trail and wrote about it in A Walk in the Woods. Their stories of sore feet and adventures have little in common, however, with Andra Watkins who walked the Natchez Trace and wrote about it in Not Without My Father. That's because the 444-mile Natchez Trace, once America's premiere foot path walked by such historical figures as Daniel Boone, is not a trail. It's a scenic byway for motorized vehicles stretching from Natchez, Mississippi, to Nashville, Tennessee.And Andra Watkins isn't a devoted hiker. She walked the remnants of the old footpath to publicize her book: To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis. The quirky premise of that book, published in March, 2014, involves the ghost of Meriwether Lewis trying to redeem himself for his own unresolved death. Lewis, best known for his participation in the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1804-1806, died in 1809 at the age of 35 while traveling on the Natchez Trace. Whether his death was suicide or murder continues to be debated by historians.The title for Watkins' book comes from the fact that she was accompanied on the walk by her father. Each day he dropped her off where she had finished the day before and picked her up at the end of her daily 15-mile tormented walk, which never got easier. While readers of this book will learn something of the Trace's historic past, they will learn more about a troubled relationship between a daughter and her father—and where this journey takes them. Not Without my Father is more about relationships and coming to know one's self than it is a travelogue. It's a story that is real, with all the grit of growing up in a household that had little resemblance to the Beaver's world of June and Ward Cleaver.This is a book without traditional heroes, but one in which you'll find yourself rooting for the non-heroes who struggle to give meaning to their lives, the daughter by walking and the father by selling his daughter's books along the way. Both finally have the time to explore and try to overcome memories of bad times in their relationship, and both realize the time remaining to mend their ways is short.Did Andra really walk beside a highway the entire Natchez Trace? Did she and her father come to better understand each other? I'm not going to answer those questions. You'll have to read the book and find out for yourself. I'll just say that it won't be a waste of your time.by Pat Beanfor Story Circle Book Reviewsreviewing books by, for, and about women

  • Donna
    2019-06-12 10:58

    In Not Without My Father, Andra Watkins chronicles her 444 mile walk of the Natchez Trace. I was given an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book and asked to provide and post an honest review. Over the course of 34 days, Andra walked the entire Natchez Trace to promote her first book, To Live Forever; An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis. At the time of Andra’s walk, I followed her Blog posts and daily videos chronicling her walk. I was anxious to read this book to get more detail on her inspirational accomplishment. Walking 15 miles a day in all kinds of weather, Andra took her 80 year old father along with her on her walk of the Trace. Her Dad, Roy Lee Watkins, would drop her off each morning and pick her up after she’d walked her daily 15 mile stint. This book is the story of how they supported each other yet battled and almost killed each other along the way.I admit that I have a slightly different perspective than Andra does. I have been without my parents for many years now. You tend to forget some of the silly little things that people do on a daily basis that drive each other crazy. I, too, was a lot like my Father, and we frequently argued. Reading Andra’s book brought back some of those less than savory discussions with my own Father. Those parts of her book made me feel sad because they hit a little too close to home. The narrative alternates between Andra and her Father. The chapters in Roy’s voice helped explained a lot about who he is.Andra admits that sparring is something she and her Dad do all the time. He raised her to be tough, and he taught her to push through and keep going. I smiled at the parts of the book where he told her she couldn’t do something. That only made her mad and made her try harder to do it. This memoir shows what a tough woman Andra is, and in spite of it all, she and both her parents grow closer over the course of her walk. They were there for her and helped her to successfully complete her trek. Andra also learns to appreciate her parents for who they are. This book is at times sad, silly, and brutally honest but always inspirational.

  • Kir
    2019-06-08 12:34

    Don’t you love when a memoir engages and entertains you as much as fiction? Aren’t you enthralled when a writer can take you along on their journey and allow you to experience their range of emotions while you are simply reading their words? I am; which is why when I was given the chance to read an advanced copy of “Not Without My Father” chronicling Andra’s walk of the Natchez Trail I found myself horrified, humbled and honored from one moment to the next. While the walk itself would clamor to be the central character it ends up being the voices of Watkins, her dad, her best friend, her mom and her husband that set the scene and tell the story. A story that starts much earlier than the first sign post on the Trace and ends long after she has limped past the last to finish her walk into self-salvation. Told mostly from the point of view of Andra some of my favorite chapters were those where her father Roy interjects his own thoughts and memories with the air of a man who knows how powerful words and stories can be. In is within those chapters that you come to see where Andra got her determined, stubborn and hopeful spirit. With every anecdote sprinkled among the stories of his daughter was telling us of blistered feet, self doubt and redemption Roy proved that we, as human beings, become the sum of the stories we tell and are told. Who hasn’t reached mid-life and not questioned their place in the world, their relationship with their parents and the next chapter to their own story? This, at its heart, is the beauty of Watkin’s book. I felt changed and most importantly, moved, by her story. I called my own mother eager to recount our own memories, I told my husband the narratives that shaped the life of my deceased father and I felt the tug of the family bind, the blood ties. For there is humor and disgust, kindness and exasperation in every family history and “Not Without My Father” shies from none of it, instead it invites you on the walk complete with a soundtrack fit for a journey to the center of family, self and acceptance.

  • Fiona Mclaughlin
    2019-06-02 10:46

    Andra Watkins did something remarkable to promote her first book, and in the process she challenged her relationship with Roy, her dad.Andra walked the length of the Natchez Trace, as had her characters in 'To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis'. She did the walking, took the pictures, wrote the blog posts, made the videos, dealt with painful feet and painful truths. Roy did the talking, selling of the books, and the farting. Not Without My Father tells their tales, wonderfully. There's even a soundtrack- Elvis, Johnny Cash, Everything but the Girl, The Bangles... All the senses are engaged by this memoir. I loved it.Both my parents are dead; this book made me pause many times to think of them, to reflect on differences, to miss them. I miss being annoyed by them, I miss the anxiety they cause. I miss just being able to hug them, and stop time.This is not a sweetness and light memoir. Roy is maddening. Andra is suffering physically and wondering what in god's name she's doing, and why. (It's so frustrating when the only person you can blame for a goofy idea is yourself.)The story is told by Andra, and by her versions of Roy's stories. She tells us about Roy beautifully, with love and empathy and understanding, all the while being mad at him. Because that's what families do.There are many characters in the memoir, supporting, selling, watching from a distance, travelling to be with her. Andra discovers unexpected community, as well as the complexities, difficulties and delights of the Trace itself.As a journey of discovery along the Trace, looking for a father and finding adventure, 'Not Without My Father' is a companion piece to 'To Live Forever', but can be enjoyed without having read the novel in advance. But you'll want to read the novel next...I read an Advance Reading Copy, and am sure I will re read and find more to enjoy. Andra is the real deal. Don't miss out.

  • Penny
    2019-06-14 10:39

    My excitement in receiving an advanced reading copy of Andra Watkin's companion book of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis doubled as I began reading her new memoir/travelogue/journal of personal thoughts on her often harrowing, funny, and revealing physical and personal journey of the famed Natchez Trace. Not Without My Father: One Woman's 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace is Andra Watkin's very personal journey as she sets out to retrace the steps of Meriwether Lewis in promoting her first novel, while her wingman, Roy Lee Watkins Junior, sells the first book from the trunk of his car as he follows her walk down the Trace. Roy is Andra's 90 year old father, armed with his sleep apnea machine and a penchant for storytelling. We also meet Andra's mother, Linda, and her friends, innkeepers, shopkeepers, and interesting characters along the the 444 mile route. I was struck by how how much Andra's journey on the Natchez Trace parallels the journey in her novel; both are stories about finding one's way in life searching for one's own father. I was also struck by how how gifted Andra and Roy are at their well-honed acts of storytelling. Andra takes pen to paper as deftly as Roy weaves stories to strangers. Each chapter begins with a song title and the pages are peppered with photos of mileposts along the Natchez Trace. I found myself humming tunes as Andra's blistered and battered feet trudged the path. Some chapters capture Roy's words, while most are Andra's, on a most amazing physical and personal journey journey that will make you laugh, cause you to cry, cringe, and wonder why - and maybe, just maybe, consider a personal journey in making memories of your own. Not Without My Father . . . is an awesome adventure that I encourage all to read.

  • Lisa
    2019-06-08 07:43

    Andra Watkins, The author of To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis has struck gold again with her new book Not Without My Father. While To Live Forever is an entertaining fictional blend of action, adventure, history and ghosts Not without My Father takes us on a personal journey that drew me right into that rare but wonderful experience of settling in with a new book and being utterly lost in a story.Not Without My Father is the story of Andra’s 444 mile walk of the Natchez trace as well as a frank appraisal of her past and present relationship with her ageing father and road warrior wingman, Roy who accompanied Andra along this personal journey. Ms. Watkins engaging voice and no holds barred style brings her readers along for every tough, challenging and ultimately uplifting mile with her father while she travels this historic highway as the only living person to walk the trace end to end. We experience human insights born from years of miscommunication and follow her painful footsteps from the starting point in Natchez, Mississippi, through Alabama and finally finding joy and completion in Nashville, Tennessee with her father by her side. Anyone who has struggled with self-doubt and difficult family dynamics will relate to this memoir and we can all benefit from Ms. Watkins’ realization that life long memories are waiting to be created and shared every day. Reading Not Without My Father was a wonderful experience and I am pleased to recommend it to everyone looking for an engaging, honest and joy-filled read.

  • James Banzer
    2019-06-15 13:55

    This is a story of a woman's long walk along the Natchez Trace. The 400-plus mile road from Natchez, Mississippi to Nashville is the same route famed explorer Meriwether Lewis traveled when he met death under mostly unknown circumstances. Although no one is certain how he died, it is probable that he was the victim of robbers. All along the route, the author is haunted with thoughts of what might have happened. Andra Watkins found the walk a way to connect with her aging parents. Her mother joined as a participant part of the way. Her father went along by car and proudly hustled a novel his daughter had written before the adventure. The father seems to channel his daughter's sense of accomplishment in this well-written memoir The book reminisces about his past and the reader gets a look at his immense satisfaction in his offspring's accomplishment. As much as anything else, the walk was a way to reconnect with her parents. She had not fully realized just how frail her father had become until this adventure Along the route she became all too familiar with his nightly routine of complaining when faced with having to take stairs during bed-and-breakfast stays. When the walk ended, Andra proudly had her picture taken with arms around her parents.It's a heartwarming story about endurance and accomplishment. Had it not been offered as a free giveaway through Goodreads, it's unlikely I would have ever heard about it. Thankfully it was one of those offerings, and one for which I am grateful.

  • Susanne Fletcher
    2019-05-21 11:37

    Before I read Andra Watkin’s first book, To Live Forever: An afterlife journey of Meriwether Lewis, I’d never heard of the Natchez Trace. In Not Without My Father, Andra’s story of her own historic walk of 444 miles along this ancient route, I followed her step by step on her journey of self discovery. That sounds incredibly pompous and self-indulgent but it’s not because that’s not what she started out to do. She wanted to promote her debut novel and accomplish something no living person has done. Along the way, however, she reconnects with her father Roy, an antique-loving, storytelling, pie-driven, hearing deficient, former Bible salesman. While Andra’s painful, puss-filled, grueling 15-miles-a-day-walk gives the story its frame, it is the relationship with her dad that makes it memorable and a joy to read. Roy’s acknowledgement of his daughter’s strength keeps Andra walking long after the rest of us would have packed it in from being buffeted by miserable weather, threatened with gangrene from the dying tissue on road weary feet or being temporarily felled by explosive diarrhea. Andra comes to appreciate her father’s struggles with his aging body by experiencing her own bodily breakdowns on the road. I enjoyed this book immensely. I got to know a forgotten part of America and, more importantly, felt uplifted by the story of renewal and reconciliation in this unique,memorable family road trip. Read it. You might even be inspired to set out on your own adventure with a cranky family member.

  • Angela Amman
    2019-05-20 08:55

    Not Without My Father isn’t simply a tale of Watkins’ walk of the Natchez Trace.Of course, the trek up the Trace is a central focus of the book. From the unexpected sleet — remember 2013 – 2014 was the winter that never, ever wanted to end — and the perfect beauty of a hopping robin to the ravaged blisters from the repetitive motion of the walk, Watkins’ accomplishment shouldn’t be reduced to the emotional journey of her six-week undertaking. Walking fifteen miles a day, for six straight days, then resting a day and starting again, is a physical feat requiring tenacity and utter obstinance.Despite the aches and pains of the physical trial, those aren’t the details that will echo through my thoughts when I remember Not Without My Father.Watkins confronts many things during her walk. Mental, physical, and emotional obstacles are impossible to ignore when you meet them on your own two feet. Family dynamics play an enormous part in the memoir. Roy Watkins is out of shape and ornery, ready to verbally spar with his daughter over everything from climbing stairs to signing books with her swollen fingers. Yet he is the one who sells her book to anyone who will listen to his pitch, the one person who sees her each day, the one who sees in her eyes that she isn’t going to quit.To read more of my review, please visit Playing with words

  • J.R. Stewart
    2019-06-14 08:02

    "Not Without My Father" is ambitious adventure memoir. It is funny, poignant, agonizing, raunchy, and delightfully "out there." Andra Watkins shows her mettle throughout the book and is not afraid to show her weakness, her doubt, and her sometimes dysfunctional relationship with her parents. The story moves skillfully between despair, hope, anger, and elation. I found it hard to put down once I settled into its rhythm.Roy Lee Watkins, the father the story refuses to be without, spins his yarns and shares his own despair, doubt, and hope. His constant sparring with his daughter (they both know exactly which buttons to push) offers insight into a universal clash of generations, of fathers and daughters, and by Roy's telling, fathers and sons, too. This memoir definitely contributes to the literature of the family dynamic.I think it is a writer's book, which is high praise. Ms. Watkins sums it up simply as she nears the bittersweet end of her journey:"My body always did things my mind doubted. Growth happened when I overcame my mind."It is a story of raw wounds, both physical and emotional, and great heartfelt healing. The Watkins family courageously shows the good, the bad, the ugly, and the sublime. You cannot read this book without gaining insights about the American family that will probably enlighten you when it comes to some of your very own family dynamics.

  • Ray Visotski
    2019-06-10 12:01

    There comes a time in each of our lives when we are confronted with questions that we might not want the answers to, but we sense the eschatological urgency to ask anyway.Some ignore the urge and some write a book about it.Andra Watkins hits it out of the park with "Not Without My Father". A follow-up to her "To Live Forever, An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis", Andra uses a 444-mile hike, (or is it 442 miles?) as the backdrop to tell another story about a father and his daughter. I was privileged to receive an ARC in return for an honest review. Honestly, I’m looking forward to January 15th and will be buying this book for my dad, my three, grown daughters and some friends…and the audio adaptation for myself. I observed the genesis of this story on Andra’s blog as she hiked the Natchez Trace, promoting her first book earlier this year. But as a casual observer, I never got the sense of what was really happening. The book fills in all the blanks… and then some. Most, if not all of us have unfinished business with our parents and others. For some, it is too late, but for many of us, we still have that liberating opportunity within our grasp.Read this book and use it as a guide on how to grab that opportunity while you still have the time. Trust me.

  • Jim
    2019-06-06 09:03

    In early 2014 Andra Watkins walked the Natchez Trace from Mississippi to Tennessee as a way of promoting her first novel To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis (Wordhermit Press).Many people, including this reviewer of that book, followed Andra along her journey as she posted daily video blog posts about that promotional journey. What many of us did not know was the unfolding "behind the scenes" story with her father and mother as she walked.Not Without My Father is that story.And what a story it is!Written in a very engaging style with both actual personal thoughts from Andra's dad as well as snatches of her conversations with him, Not Without My Father is a great contemporary memoir in which two adults seek to re-develop (and perhaps re-negotiate it as well) their relationship from child and parent to two adults. Her journey, and Roy's (her dad) becomes more than a promotional tour. It truly becomes a journey of reconciliation and hope as well.I am grateful for this book primarily because I think that it gives us a glimpse into a writer's back story that is often unknown until years later, if ever. But I also like it very much because it reminds us that family is oh so important.I rate this book a 'great' read.Note: I reviewed an ARC of this book via the author without an expectation of a positive review.

  • Lou Mello
    2019-06-12 13:36

    Andra Watkins has chosen a unique and challenging way to connect with her aging Father, and along the way, rekindles a frayed and distant relationship with her Mother. Andra walks the 444 mile Natchez Trace to commemorate and launch her first novel, To Live Forever, An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis. She chooses her wingman to be her 80 year old Father, Roy Lee Watkins, Jr., a natural born story teller, to accompany her on her daily trek of 15 miles.Of course, old Roy doesn't walk, he spends the 5 hours a day telling any stranger a story while Andra walks through wind, rain, sleet and the chaos that comes with a lonely journey. Roy is also tasked with selling her book out of the trunk of the car to any passing soul and that is one job he excells at. The book is a telling of the daily travails, fights, tears, and screaming between Daughter and Father and an eventual bonding of sorts as both begin to understand one another. Mother joins them for the final three of the five week trek and adds another dynamic that only Mothers and Daughters can empathize with. The daily description of the walk is well worth following and the grinding of the personalities of Father, Mother and Daughter bring laughter and tears to the reader. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

  • Lori
    2019-05-21 07:03

    I love this book. It was a very quick read from me...until I got to the end and then, like the author, I didn't want our journey to end. Andra Watkins writes so succinctly. Her descriptions are so "spot on" that you feel like you're right there with her, slogging through the sleet, wind, cold...or being kept away by the throttling sound of a CPAP machine. I recognized myself in Andra's actions and ached with her, soared with her, and believe me I'm cheering her on mile after mile after mile. Andra's writing evoked many emotions within me and all of a sudden I'll feel a catch in my chest and I'll choke on a sob, and then I'll giggle at her father's antics, or groan at his antics. It's such a beautiful and uplifting story. A story of love, trials and tribulations and a woman's quest to spend quality time with her father. I wish I were better at giving reviews, but long story short...everyone should read this. Everyone. What a beautiful story of love, struggle, finding yourself, finding your parents and recognizing the beauty in every single day...even when you think you cannot walk one more mile in the sleet, rain and hail. We all should dance with the Daffodils.

  • Pamela Beckford
    2019-05-29 08:48

    I have enjoyed Andra's writing style both on her blog and in To Live Forever. Reading her memoir of the walk on the Natchez Trace was a delight. I had followed her blog throughout her walk and yet this book brought me side by side with her on the walk.I have been dealing with an aging parent so this seemed to fit well with my own experiences. As a daddy's girl I wanted to see how she handled her time with her aging parents for five weeks. This book was a clear reminder that we need to spend time trying to understand where our parents are today. Tomorrow isn't promised to any of us. But we will hold fast to our memories. Told both from Andra's perspective and from Roy's (her dad), the book illustrates the understanding they gain about each other. This book made me laugh, wince in pain, and cry with her. While the book can be read even if you haven't read To Live Forever, I would still recommend reading To Live Forever for a better understanding of the landscape. I recommend this book to all. It is an easy read but delivers so much impact.