“I’m looking for someone to share in an adventure.” Gandalf’s invitation to Bilbo before their unexpected journey provides an excellent example for how Andra Watkins’ unexpected journey began with her father. In memory of Meriwether Lewis and to help promote the book she wrote about him, Watkins wished to be the first person to walk the historic Natchez Trace Lewis nearly finished. Aiming to walk fifteen miles per day, Watkins planned to complete her 444-mile walk in thirty-four days; however, she didn’t wish to complete her amazing journey alone. With life keeping those who wished to travel with her away due to work or family, there was only one other person who could go… the one person who wanted nothing more than to NOT go: her father.
And thus Watkins’ unexpected journey began in early 2015 and, today, readers can experience her journey through her self-published memoir on Amazon, Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace. Oh, what a journey she endured and, through the written word, Watkins takes readers on a journey that, upon completion of her memoir, they themselves may believe they endured. Watkins’ memoir is one many readers may find themselves either wanting to complete in one sitting or will find themselves doing so. What better time to read a memoir about a historic nature path than during the month the National Parks Service celebrates their 100th anniversary?
Watkins’ writing style will make readers not want to stop reading. Her voice is one that can be witty, serious, inspirational, and, like many other memoirs in the world, real. Within a little over 200 pages, Watkins shares everything she endured on her journey: what she expected, what she didn’t expect, what she loved, what she hated, what she lost, what she gained. She hides nothing from her readers and this makes for an incredibly intriguing read. Watkins even includes a few chapters that are told in her father’s voice, giving an even broader spectrum than just Watkins’ voice.
“The world is not in your books and maps. It’s out there.” Bilbo was incredibly hesitant to begin his journey into the unknown and what makes Tolkien’s character so likeable is the fact that EVERYONE who begins something new, different, and/ or dangerous is hesitant to begin. Watkins was no different: her journey of 444 miles began with her first step and, after she took that step, she just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Not Without My Father is a truly inspirational memoir any reader who picks it up will enjoy. While reading and upon completion, it will more than likely make readers wish to go on a journey of their own or simply wish to hug someone they are close to. Finishing Watkins’ memoir will make readers want to shout out, “I’m going on an adventure!”