Quick Review: Be Brave, Be Strong

I was introduced to Jill Homer’s adventures through the podcast Ten Junk Miles. One day, Scott, the host of TJM, posted a link to a sale on Jill’s books at Amazon. I decided to jump on it and pick up four of her works. My wife recently read her book that documented Tim Hewitt’s multiple Iditarod 1000 races, and she enjoyed it. I decided to try something different and read Be Brave, Be Strong: A Journey Across the Great Divide. This book documents her bike ride from Banff in Canada, all the way down the Great Divide Trail to Mexico, in the Tour Divide race.

One of the things I really appreciated about this book is Jill’s voice. She’s an excellent writer, and she tells the story in a compelling and engaging manner. Her descriptions are visual, but not flowery, which makes the pages flow by. I also liked how Jill weaved in the story of her relationships throughout the story. The story of her love life was intertwined with her journey, and if she had simply glossed over it, the book would have been much less interesting.

The story is told with great detail, highlighting every single day of the journey. When I finished reading, I felt like I could actually go on part of the trail myself, and have some semblance of where I was. Although, towards the middle of the book, I started to tire of the daily log of each day’s journey, I feel like the story would have been less impactful without it. If she had simply glossed over and combined multiple days, that were mostly uneventful, it would have disrupted the flow and rhythm of the story. Instead, we get to share in that experience of routine, and even boredom, that Jill documents.

Jill doesn’t sugar coat her struggles either. As she reaches her lowest points she doesn’t shy away from bitching about how much she wanted to quit. She’s open about her tears and doubts at every step of the way. You feel like you’re connecting with a real person, not some elite athlete who never seems like they struggle. It makes the journey relatable, despite the fact that it’s probably out of reach of most of us.

I’m glad that I was introduced to Jill’s work, and am looking forward to reading about her next adventure.