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Becoming Odyssa

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  1,956 ratings  ·  291 reviews
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 mos ...more
ebook, 319 pages
Published November 15th 2010 by Beaufort Books (first published November 2010)
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Christie
When I was a kid, Jen and I would roam around her neighborhood, playing tennis, basketball, ping pong, swimming in the pool and in general just adventuring in the great outdoors. We would go to her brothers' high school and race around the track and explore the school grounds. In fact, I have very few memories with Jen (besides sitting in the classroom) where we weren't outdoors or doing something active.

I always looked up to Jen, we were the same age but she always seemed so confident; she was
...more
Diane
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 ...more
Katie Jean
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 ...more
Robyn
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 histo ...more
Nikki O'Callaghan
I've read a few hiking memoirs now and this I found to be a weaker of the few. It was a good story of a solo woman thru hiker but I found the many long digressions about Christian faith and her relationship with God a bit annoying and threw me off the story at times. I also found her frustrating due to what I perceived as a lack of preparation. She had supposedly felt a calling to hike the trail but it does not seem that she really did a lot of research before hand and subsequently made many mis ...more
Ringo
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
...more
Shannon
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, ...more
David
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 p
...more
Jackie
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 hi ...more
Tom
Dec 10, 2014 Tom rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All lovers of the outdoors, especially hikers.
Recommended to Tom by: No one
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
...more
Read, Run, Ramble
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
...more
C
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 2,00 ...more
Shellys♥ Journal
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 th
...more
Heather
Dec 08, 2010 Heather rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: outdoor enthusiasts
Shelves: first-reads-wins
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!
KyneWynn
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
...more
Ann
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 t ...more
Lizz
The author has indeed accomplished a huge feat simply in hiking the AT. No one can take that away from her, nor can they take away her other very impressive accomplishments including setting the woman's speed hiking record for the AT. But this book is a lesson in writing rule #1: don't write unless you have a story. Simply hiking the AT as a 21-year-old recent college grad is not a story unto itself. The real story does not come until the last few pages when we learn she decided to beat the wome ...more
Aaminah Shakur
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
...more
Ellen
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 dis ...more
Corinne
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. Sh
...more
Jennifer
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 ...more
Melisa
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!
Eloise
I could go through and point out all the things about this that bothered me, but I won't. It's not worth the energy. She started off immature, self absorbed, and judgmental, and ended the same way.

Mostly I finished the book out of a perverse desire to see what dumb thing she would do or say next.
...more
Keshia
Insightful. Good story. Informative, especially for me who lives in the west. I had no knowledge of an appalachian trail or the existence of thru-hikers. I liked her insights on body image and feeling good about your body, not because it's aesthetically beautiful but because of what it can or has accomplished.

It through me off slightly when at some point I realized the author wasn't telling us about every hiker Odyssa met. Occasionally she'd introduce a hiker character on the second or third ti
...more
Leeski Wunderbar
I have never finished a book as quickly as I have this one! Well written, relatable, and inspiring!
shartyrant
I think I went into this book expecting something about the actual hiking trip and the adventures more than the author's religious crisis. I could've handled that, but I was unprepared for how judgmental she seemed to be towards others as she encounters people. Plus for someone who spent a a long time thinking about hiking as it was a "calling" as she told one instructor, she seemed VERY unprepared for even the first evening. Simple things that even I know not to do from just basic camping on an ...more
Lauren Glowacky
A very enjoyable book, Becoming Odyssa is an autobiographical account of a 21 year old college graduate, who decides to hike the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. She is hiking alone, although she meets many other thru-hikers along the way. She encounters many hardships, including finding a suicide victim along the trail, but she perseveres and trusts in God to help her on her journey.
Snogged
At the start of last month, I turned the final pages on Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed and I continued the trend by turning the final pages on Becoming Odyssa: Epic Adventures on the Appalachian Trail by Jennifer Pharr Davis.

Jennifer has a good story here. She's 21 years old, recent college graduate, and she decides to take on a 4-month journey where she essentially solo-hikes from Georgia to Maine.

I enjoyed her descriptions of her journey on the trail (e
...more
Justin
There are two major aspects to Odyssa. First, this is a first-hand account of what it is like to hike the Appalachian Trail. Second, it is a story of a young person finding herself. I thought that it was good to great on the first mark, but fell short on the second.

In terms of recounting the trip itself, I thought the book was enjoyable and engaging. It's a long trek, and reading the story of her triumphs and struggles allowed me to live vicariously through her as she moved along the trail. I re
...more
Andrew E Perkins
An Amazing Spiritual Memoir

What I've come to learn in my relationship with the Almighty is summed very eloquently in Odyssa's adventures on the AT. The Creator greatest desire for us all is for us to truly know who we are. I thank Jennifer for sharing her story and God for giving her the talent, courage, and insight to do so. At first I was disappointed there were no photos included until it dawned on me that her story was not about outward appearances and were probably not included for that ver
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: wrong cover image 3 185 Jan 06, 2014 05:57AM  
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Jennifer Pharr Davis grew up in the North Carolina Mountains, where she developed a love for hiking at a young age. At age twenty-one, Jennifer hiked the entire Appalachian Trail as a solo female and fell in love with long-distance backpacking.

Since then, Jennifer has hiked more than 8,000 miles of trails in North America, including the Pacific Crest Trail, Vermont’s Long Trail, and the Colorado T
...more
More about Jennifer Pharr Davis...
Called Again: Love and Triumph on the Appalachian Trail 46 Days: Keeping Up With Jennifer Pharr Davis on the Appalachian Trail Best Hikes Near Charlotte Five-Star Trails: Asheville: Your Guide to the Area's Most Beautiful Hikes Best Easy Day Hikes Charlotte (Best Easy Day Hikes Series)

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“The scenic vistas of North Carolina and Tennessee make you feel like you're looking at a work of art, but crossing through the rural countryside of southwest Virginia and caressing the tall grass with your fingertips, you feel like you're part of the painting.” 4 likes
“In Massachusetts and Vermont, there had been plenty of mosquitoes, but in New Hampshire, they had reinforcements.” 4 likes
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