Book Review: Becoming Odyssa

Becoming Odyssa follows Jennifer Pharr Davis as she transitions from an insecure college student into a strong, independent adult ready to seek out her own adventure. While solo-trekking the Appalachian Trail (over 2000 miles of often cold, wet and treacherous wilderness), Davis learns many lessons about herself, humanity, and her faith.

While reading Becoming Odyssa, I found myself connecting with Davis' spirit of independence and love of literacy. I picked up the book because my husband and I are planning our own hiking trips and plan to eventually land on the Appalachian Trail, but I had no idea how important Davis' story would become to me, or the depth of emotion I would feel each time she struggled or succeeded as she traveled from Georgia to Maine.
Most hikers that complete the entire trail end up with a trail name, and Davis chose her own: Odyssa, modeled after the original epic adventurer, Odysseus. Links between the two great heroes are sprinkled throughout the book, and I enjoyed the similarities between Davis' journey and that of Odysseus.
It is said that anyone that succeeds in completing a thru-hike in the short time span allowed to finish the trail by October will forever be changed. The trail is a pilgrimage, a way to remember our roots, to reclaim our lost selves. Davis discovered this on her own when she hiked the trail in 2005. Since then she says she has never felt more beautiful than when she was on the trail, without a mirror for 6 months. I think this is a truth for many of us: we see our true beauty when we realize what our bodies are completely capable of. Beauty then, is found through the strength in our bones and the endurance of our hearts, not in the shape of our face.

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