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Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver

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From one of the world’s most renowned cave divers, a firsthand account of exploring the earth’s final frontier: the hidden depths of our oceans and the sunken caves inside our planet

More people have died exploring underwater caves than climbing Mount Everest, and we know more about deep space than we do about the depths of our oceans. From one of the top cave divers working today—and one of the very few women in her field—Into the Planet blends science, adventure, and memoir to bring readers face-to-face with the terror and beauty of earth’s remaining unknowns and the extremes of human capability.

Jill Heinerth—the first person in history to dive deep into an Antarctic iceberg and leader of a team that discovered the ancient watery remains of Mayan civilizations—has descended farther into the inner depths of our planet than any other woman. She takes us into the harrowing split-second decisions that determine whether a diver makes it back to safety, the prejudices that prevent women from pursuing careers underwater, and her endeavor to recover a fallen friend’s body from the confines of a cave. But there’s beauty beyond the danger of diving, and while Heinerth swims beneath our feet in the lifeblood of our planet, she works with biologists discovering new species, physicists tracking climate change, and hydrogeologists examining our finite freshwater reserves.


Written with hair-raising intensity, Into the Planet is the first book to deliver an intimate account of cave diving, transporting readers deep into inner space, where fear must be reconciled and a mission’s success balances between knowing one’s limits and pushing the envelope of human endurance.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published August 20, 2019

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About the author

Jill Heinerth

19 books110 followers
A pioneering underwater explorer, Jill Heinerth has dived deeper into caves than any woman in history. Selected for the inaugural class of the Women Divers Hall of Fame, her recent awards include the Wyland Icon and Scuba Diving Magazine’s Sea Hero of the Year.

Recognizing a lifetime of contributions to advancing underwater exploration, in 2013, Heinerth was presented with the Sir Christopher Ondaatje Medal for Exploration by the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. The author of several books about diving, Heinerth currently has two titles on Amazon.com’s extreme sports “Top 100” bestseller charts. She is an active filmmaker, author, a regular Diver Magazine columnist and a highly regarded technical diving instructor.

Her company, Heinerth Productions, Inc., specializes in independent publishing, new media content creation, and underwater videography. Heinerth’s professional credentials include PADI CCR Trimix Instructor Trainer in addition to teaching for several rebreather and cave-diving agencies.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 611 reviews
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,112 reviews1,105 followers
March 14, 2020
Four years ago when I was diving in Derawan, East Kalimantan , I asked the dive shop to bring me to a site called Blue Light. However, I was rejected since it is a cave and I did not have a cave diving (specialty) certification. That was the first time I paid specific attention about cave diving, which still has not been a common practice in Indonesia (yet).

After reading this book, I became even more discouraged. Silt and hard enclosed environment are not my jam at all. I'll stick with the clear blue tropical water with colorful corals and creatures, thank you!

That is why I have a huge respect to Jill; in only nine years since her certification she managed to swim hundreds of meters in the bowels of earth, did the first 3D map of an underwater cave. A few years later, she became the first person to dive the ice caves of Antarctica, like, literally swimming in an iceberg. She faced death a bunch of times. She had to drag her dead friends from their watery tombs. She had to deal with sexism in the diving community. Not to mention many personal ordeals.

The book is easy to read and her diving experiences are well narrated. They kept me at the edge of my figurative seat. Seriously, the part about the Mexican cenote was crazy and also when she lost her guide line due to a panic buddy.

Her experience with bends was horrible, too. I am lucky I only ever suffered minor ones (rash) many years ago. I am grateful that she said it is useless to blame people and judge what's wrong since there are too many factors in play. Even the experienced ones could be bent too and they might never know why!

In this book, I could use fewer personal issues. She had this weird lengthy account on her so-called adventurer genetic trait, R7 or something, which was a 'huh-what' moment for me. I am glad though to be finally able to read this book (written by a woman especially), even though I won't ever be a caver.

Nevertheless, since safety is number one when it comes to diving, I am now planning to continue my certification till at least the rescue level. Should be advantageous and increase my confidence in the water, right? Wish me luck :)
Profile Image for Sophie.
457 reviews186 followers
April 3, 2021
Heard a super interesting interview with her on NPR, now I'm curious to read this!
Profile Image for Ben.
967 reviews81 followers
September 7, 2019
I expected much more. This is mostly about Heinerth's experiences on other people's cave diving expeditions, especially Bill Stone's projects. Bill Stone has an excellent book himself, "Beyond the Deep: Deadly Descent into the World's Most Treacherous Cave," so I don't see a reason for reading this one.

Beyond that, the writing is very average. There is way too much information about her relationships. I didn't expect to be reading about her frustrations with online dating, and swiping right or left. It is neither interesting nor novel.

I don't know if she has repressed impostor syndrome, but she is constantly pointing out what an amazing explorer she is.

> We were on top of the world, and I was comfortable in my role as an exploration diver and felt I was an important asset to the success of the entire team.

> In this wild and almost unimaginable situation, I continue to blossom in the purity of unhindered exploration. I’ll be afraid, but I’ll never concede.

Stone didn't constantly write how great he is. He didn't have to, because his stories stood for themselves.

She complains constantly, about everything from bugs to her husband to online trolls. I'm sympathetic to her about trolls, but don't think that either engaging with them or complaining about it in your memoir is at all productive. And she unfortunately undercuts herself; on one page she complains about others saying saying she didn't earn her way onto her husband's expedition, and on the next page she writes:

> Not yet envisioning myself as capable of that level of advanced technical exploration diving, I first settled into a management and marketing role, bringing my artistic skills, photography, and technical background to the group.

There are a few interesting stories here, but they are buried in a mess.

> I was still too exhausted to communicate with Paul, who was sitting only five yards away at the fire. I wished he would sweep me up and make it all go away. Was our bond so weak that he could not even ask me what was wrong? … I wanted my indomitable French-Canadian husband to sweep me into his arms and make everything better.

Profile Image for Krista.
1,333 reviews495 followers
July 16, 2019
When we transcend the fear of failure and terror of the unknown, we are all capable of great things, personally and as a society. We might not always know where the journey will lead us. We might feel a burden of difficulty, but all paths lead to discovery. Both good and bad life events contribute to the fabric of who we are as individuals and as a civilization. If we continue to trek purposefully toward our dreams, into the planet and beyond, we just might achieve the impossible.

Jill Heinerth seems to have led a life of trekking purposefully toward her dreams, and despite personal sacrifices and the constant risk of mortal danger, she has built an enviable career as a cave diver and explorer, as an advanced trainer of technical diving, and as a filmmaker and writer. Part memoir, part chronicle of modern cave diving and the evolving science that allows humans to go deeper and for longer on these dangerous dives, Into the Planet is an often thrilling and always interesting book about an extreme sport and an extreme life. [Note: I read an ARC and passages quoted may not be in their final forms.]

The archway of ice above our heads is furrowed like the surface of a golf ball, carved by the hand of the sea. Iridescent blue, Wedgwood, azure, cerulean, cobalt, and pastel robin's egg meld with chalk and silvery alabaster. The ice is vibrant, bright, and at the same time ghostly, shadowy. The beauty contradicts the danger. We are the first people to cave dive inside an iceberg. And we may not live to tell the story.

The book opens with a prologue set inside the iceberg known as B-15 – a large chunk of Antarctica that broke off in the year 2000, and at the time that Heinerth and two others made several unprecedented dives into its interior, it was the largest free-floating object on Earth – and right from the beginning, the storytelling is thrilling and beautifully wrought. The narrative then rewinds to Heinerth's childhood and early adult experiences, and still, it's all fascinating. When the young professional decides to leave her life and her career as the co-owner of a Toronto-based graphic design firm in order to become a dive instructor in the Caribbean, her journeys into the planet begin in earnest. As every major expedition that Heinreth and her co-divers propose require sponsors and fundraising before the fact, it's interesting to see how she eventually uses her expertise in graphic design and photography to create the brochures and promotional materials that make the eventual dives possible (and then to see how she develops her love of underwater photography into groundbreaking filmmaking). The stories of the major dives that follow are worthy of any fictional adventure novel, but I have to admit that I wasn't as interested in the parallel story of the author's strained marriage to fellow diver Paul Heinreth (but can't ultimately fault her for putting this large part of her life into her own memoir). I was intrigued by the additional pressures that the author faced as one of the few women in her field, and acknowledge that it must have been horrible to be a pioneer at the dawn of the internet, before most of us knew to ignore the trolls. As the story of an adventuresome life, this is all good stuff.

If you cave dive long enough, you will eventually face the death of a friend. Worse, you may even recover the body of one, or hold them as their life force ebbs. In those moments, your life will be changed forever. Back then, in Huaulta, I was new enough to cave diving and exploration that I had not yet lost a close friend. In my gut, I knew that if I were going to participate in extreme endeavors like this expedition, my days of innocence were numbered.

There is quite a bit about the dangers involved in trying to dive deeper and longer than anyone has before; cave diving seems to be an extremely competitive endeavor and Heinreth knows that every time she swims into the unknown she not only risks her own life but the peace and mental security of those she might leave behind; and particularly the peace and mental security of those of her friends who might be called upon to recover her lifeless body if she fails to resurface on her own. Heinreth explains that she has the “7R” gene (that causes people to seek the dopamine rush of novel situations), but unlike those who participate in extreme “sports” for the thrills alone, Heinreth stresses the scientific knowledge that her dives have provided – and especially those dives that trace the surprising sources and underground pathways of drinking water – and that does seem to legitimise her endeavors beyond the “because it's there” ethos. Overall, this is the story of a large life, and it's told well. I'm glad to have gotten to know Jill Heinreth and I wish her success and safety in the future.
Profile Image for Mary.
122 reviews7 followers
May 10, 2019
"I will take you on an uncomfortable rendezvous with fear. You will feel cold and claustrophobic when you read this book. But I challenge you to recognize the humanity in that sensation of terror you're experiencing. I encourage you to accept that you are an explorer like me."

Before reading Into the Planet, I knew very little about cave diving. As an avid Nat Geo reader, I have seen some incredible photos taken in remote caves, but I had absolutely no idea of the technique, training, and skill that lies behind those photos until I read this book. Jill Heinerth's story had me hooked from the very beginning. The prologue opens with a harrowing scene set in the middle of an iceberg and then transitions back to her earlier years in the first chapter. The story touches on her introduction to cave diving, follows her major diving expeditions, and highlights some of her best diving stories. Throughout the book, Heinerth also weaves a subtle reminder of the importance of water and its protection and conservation.

This book is my favorite non-fiction read of the year so far! I absolutely loved it. Heinerth's prose is beautiful. She artfully transported me to the underwater caves as she retold her diving experiences, which are fascinating, exhilarating, and even terrifying at times. The pacing worked well. There weren't too many flashbacks and I never felt lost. I also appreciated her explanations of the technical side of diving. It wasn't complicated, but it was enough that I understood what was going on and why certain things happened. If I had any criticism at all, it might be that the last part of the book doesn't seem as cohesive as the rest of the book, but it was no less captivating than any other part.

Heinerth will no doubt inspire a new generation of cave divers with her memoir, but for me, it confirmed that I am definitely too claustrophobic to take up cave diving. Nonetheless, I still loved the opportunity to journey along with Heinerth and explore some of the deepest parts of the earth through her eyes. I will definitely re-visit this book again in the future!

A huge thanks to Jill Heinerth, HarperCollins Publishers, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this lovely book!
Profile Image for Andrea.
434 reviews151 followers
December 24, 2019
Here’s a book by a woman who chose to lead a life of a real explorer - something I truly admire. In this memoir she offers a number of fascinating and dramatic tales of adventure, discovery, triumph, and loss. I was glued to its pages, and I learned a lot about the world of diving, following one’s passion, and overcoming fear, no matter which profession or relationship you might find yourself in.
Profile Image for Brian.
10 reviews3 followers
September 2, 2019
Jill Heinerth is an exceptional diver who has pushed to make a place for women in a what is often a macho, elitist sport. She periodically shows that she’s adopted that elitism as a personal value, for example, claiming her experiences of Antarctica are superior, “There is simply no comparison between a carefully managed tourist experience and the real threats and discomfort we endured on our crossing,” where an egalitarian person would have chosen to embrace shared experiences and values. Or, in another example, literally dedicating a chapter to claiming her genetics as an explanation for her success as an explorer.

Even without this elitist vein distancing the author from the reader, the writing is uneven and choppy. Heinerths’ dive experiences are exceptional and the photos in the book are spectacular. But, it could have been much better.
Profile Image for Taryn.
1,199 reviews188 followers
December 5, 2019
Jill Heinerth is the Chris Traeger of diving. “It’ll be fun! Well, it’s more grueling than fun.” She’s made a career out of diving into the most dangerous caves in the world despite pain and injuries, ingrained misogyny on the part of her fellow divers (nearly all men), and of course the mammoth level of risk inherent in cave diving in the first place. Heinerth is a great spinner of yarns, and she had me on the edge of my seat more than once as she related near misses and brushes with death. If you’re curious to know more about cave diving and what kind of person willingly signs up for that kind of job, you’ll really enjoy this memoir.
Profile Image for Danika at The Lesbrary.
507 reviews1,240 followers
May 28, 2020
A fascinating look into the world of cave diving. She is also a woman working in a male-dominated field, so a lot of the book looks at how she deals with the sexism she faces. Suspenseful (she dives into icebergs and with polar bears and in claustrophobic uncharted spaces!) and thoughtful. I definitely recommend it.
Profile Image for Bibliovoracious.
339 reviews27 followers
June 28, 2020
Freakin' awesome, in the literally, awe sense of the word. I had no idea there was this extreme subspecialty of cavers. Well written, well told.
170 reviews
September 19, 2019
There are people who are obsessed with activities that are outrageously (I am tempted to say "insanely") dangerous. I've watched a man free-climb El Capitan. I've seen wing-suited daredevils skim inches from the ground at 120 miles an hour. I've read about divers searching for artifacts at ocean depths where nitrogen narcosis and the bends are constant threats. None of them take greater risks than author Jill Heinerth. She dives in caves, the most unforgiving environment on earth. Equipment failure can kill. Losing contact with the guideline can kill. Nitrogen narcosis, the bends, oxygen poisoning, hypothermia can kill. Heinerth and her companions face them all. Add to these challenges the possibility that the iceberg within which she dives may disintegrate at any moment.

This book follows Heinerth's life as she is introduced to diving and becomes fascinated with exploring places never seen by human eyes. She is a woman in a man's world, and has to fight to gain the respect and recognition that comes easily to her male companions. She ultimately rises to the top of this riskiest profession. Her story is incredible, inspiring, and sometimes almost unbearably tense. Read it. You won't regret it.
Profile Image for Kathleen.
209 reviews10 followers
December 16, 2019
Picked this up because I’ve always been curious about those who explore the flooded cave systems in Florida. I remember visiting Wakulla Springs, staring through crystal water into the dark void from which the spring flowed (when I was finally comfortable enough to take my eye off the gator sunning itself on the opposite shore).

I remember the picture of the sign at the underwater cave’s entrance: a grim reaper over two divers’ skeletons with the message, ‘STOP: GO NO FARTHER’

Into the Planet is the memoir of a woman who dared that grim fate, and, thus far, has managed to remain just ahead of it.

Torn over whether to give this 3 or 4 stars. I think I’m the end I’m veering to 3 b/c the writing could have been better.

Also ever so slightly hesitant to recommend to friends even though the story is fascinating because this book was stressful enough to have me grinding my teeth more than once?
Profile Image for Karyl.
1,669 reviews119 followers
October 30, 2019
When my husband was stationed in Hawaii, long before we were married, his main hobby was to go scuba diving. He and his friends would get off work, grab their gear, and enjoy the gorgeous underwater scenery. While I myself have never dived, his stories made some of the terminology in the book familiar, and I loved reading a book about one of his favorite interests.

When one thinks of diving, one probably thinks of doing so in the sea, especially in the tropical areas, where the seas are clear turquoise and the wildlife abundant. But Heinerth chooses instead to dive in much less accessible places, places like inside of an iceberg in Antarctica, or deep inside a cave system in Mexico, places where a broken guide line could mean certain death. She dives not just for the thrill of it, but to show people how interconnected we all are, and to educate people about their earthly home. But as with any male-dominated profession, she has to work extra hard to make her colleagues recognize her worth.

The stories of her dives are incredible. The photos she includes are absolutely stunning. I just wish there were sketches perhaps of some of her dives because I had a hard time imagining exactly what was happening, especially during her dives in Mexico and the ones in Antarctica.

This book is highly recommended for anyone who loves to armchair travel to the most exotic of locations.
Profile Image for Michelle Taylor.
249 reviews
September 6, 2019
I won this book with Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

This book took me way longer than it should have to read. I originally wanted to read this book because it sounded interesting. It turns out it wasn't as interesting as I hoped. While reading about the amazing places Jill has dived was great, her description of all her equipment all the time was not my cup of tea.
Profile Image for Lauren .
1,680 reviews2,291 followers
October 1, 2020
Kept hoping the writing would get better... but it didn't. The cave diving and adventure element was amazing, but unfortunately not enough to push this one into a "recommended" category.
Profile Image for Autumn Beck.
180 reviews17 followers
February 2, 2021
Fascinating subject. Enjoyed the read. Handful of curse words spoken in perilous circumstances.
43 reviews
June 22, 2021
it’s fun to read books about lives that are just so….outside my personal realm of possibility (and desire).
Profile Image for Nicole R.
965 reviews
February 25, 2020
I love diving. I do not do it as often as I would like, and some of that is because I am picky (some may say spoiled) about when and where I dive. I want warm waters, endless visibility, and bright sunshine overhead.

Despite this, my interest in at least reading/learning about cave diving was piqued by one very specific experience. I used to travel to--and eventually lived on--Andros Island in the Bahamas. My early trips I spent bunking up at Forfar Field Station, named for a famous diver who died while exploring the interconnected caves and trying to set world records for depth. The story of Archie Forfar, who died alongside his girlfriend Anne Gunderson and in front of his good friend Sheck Exley, has stayed with me and led me to read several books about diving and underwater exploration.

So, when I saw this book about a cave diver, I knew I had to read it. And it scared the ever-loving crap out of me.

Jill has more courage (and perhaps less concern for actually staying alive) than I do. She was a pioneer of rebreathers, testing them down to over 400 feet. She explores underwater caves, going both extremely deep and exploring them to never before seen horizontal distances. She tells stories of not being able to see in front of her, of squeezing through passages where her belly brushes the bottom and her shoulder scrap the ceiling, and of diving below and through iceberg in the 28 degree F waters of the Antarctic. She has seen friends die, recovered dead bodies from caves, and has feared that she may never reach the surface again herself.

I literally had nightmares.

But, she did much of her diving with Nat Geo or with film crews that sought to create environmentally focused documentaries. She talked to students, trained new divers, and was very attuned to safety and training. She throws in a bunch of stuff at the end about some of her dives and you realize that this book touches on just the tip of the iceberg (pun totally intended) of her amazing experiences.

I definitely do not want to be her, but I have total respect for her and am glad that there are people like her out there!
Profile Image for Regina.
135 reviews7 followers
July 21, 2020
This was an interesting glimpse into the life of a cave diver. I now know about twice as much about what goes into cave diving than I did before...which was, admittedly, almost nothing.

However, I'm so torn over whether to give this 3 or 4 stars. I felt at times it became a memoir of her life with just footnotes of cave diving. I didn't expect to hear about her adventures in online dating, for example. I can understand how some of the personal events she described tied into her career, but sometimes it felt unnecessary and I wished she'd get back to diving stories. Perhaps I misread the blurb or misunderstood what this book was supposed to be?

Despite that, INTO THE PLANET does have a lot of tense and emotional stories of diving and loss in this very high risk career. I also appreciated hearing how she dealt with sexism as she climbed her career ladder. Maybe I'm just naive or live under a rock but I had no idea cave diving was so male dominated.

Overall it was an enjoyable read that occasionally dragged or veered off course (from my personal expectations). I appreciate that she shared these very personal experiences for public consumption.
Profile Image for Katie - Girl About Library.
128 reviews258 followers
August 3, 2019
Thank you to the publisher and author for allowing me to read this book prior to publication in exchange for an honest review. 3.5 stars, rounding to 4 because GRs doesn’t believe in the power of half stars- full review to come!
Profile Image for Phyllis Runyan.
322 reviews
March 10, 2020
The author Jill Heinerth is an expert cave diver, writer, photographer and filmmaker and has worked for National Geographic, PBS, and the BBC. I can't imagine anybody wanting to dive in underwater caves or into icebergs in Antarctica but this is what she did. It is a fascinating account of the most dangerous sport in the world but it was more to her than a sport, it was her life. Amazing book.
January 14, 2022
Title: Into the Planet
Author: Jill Heinerth
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 3.0
Pub Date: September 10, 2019

I received an ARC as a giveaway win from Penguin Random House Canada via Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

T H R E E • W O R D S

Scientific • Adventurous • Transportive

📖 S Y N O P S I S

Jill Neinerth is a celebrated cave diver and film maker who explores the planet is a way almost no one has. Into the Planet is her memoir of a life in a male-dominated domain that tests her endurance and risks her life with each mission.

💭 T H O U G H T S

Learning and understanding the natural world is something I have a keen interest in. Jill details the trials and tribulations of diving, as well as the personal sacrifices and fears in the work she does. At times I was on edge wondering what would happen. It is well narrated, but at times felt overly scientific and complex for the average reader. I also felt as though the writing could have been polished a little more.

This book certainly opened my eyes to places very few venture, and after reading it I have a very deep appreciation and respect for the work Jill does. Overall, an interesting read but not one I can see myself recommending to many readers.

📚 R E C O M M E N D • T O
• anyone with an interest in cave diving
• readers who like nature inspired memoirs

⚠️ CW: death

🔖 F A V O U R I T E • Q U O T E S

"A similar sound or smell might suddenly jar my attention and flood haunting memories back into my head, even unrelated traumas from my past. At time, they made me feel burdened and distracted. I asked Wes if that was normal. He responded, 'Normal? Jill, it's just what make you human. Everyone experiences life's challenges. It is what we do with them that matters.'"

"But when we transcend the fear of failure and terror of the unknown, we are all capable of great things, personally and as a society. We might not always know where the journey will lead us. We might feel a burden of difficulty, but all paths lead to discovery. Both good and bad life events contribute to the fabric of who we are as individuals and as a civilization."
Profile Image for Ana.
365 reviews5 followers
November 24, 2021
There were some inspiring and educational moments, but the attempts of the author - who also narrates the audiobook - to convey complex emotional moments and the grandeur of the environments she was diving in fell flat for me. I didn't feel any of this whole narrative as keenly as I did that one paragraph reddit post about The Blue Hole in Dahab, Egypt.

I did appreciate the behind-the-scenes glimpse at just how messy, uncomfortable, and dangerous the staging for things like wildlife/diving documentaries and National Geographic expeditions can be. I had somehow assumed that because they're the pros, of course when they do everything goes down smoothly and in relative comfort. Talk about disillusionment.

She also has some interesting things to say about fear and how one has to master it and learn to work through it when survival is at stake. The discussions of fear and trying to master one's own physiological reactions in life and death situations were the most riveting and memorable.

Unfortunately when Heinerth talks about the wonder of the Age of Exploration and leonizes the likes of William Shackleton, she seems completely unselfconscious and unaware of the colonialist and imperialist baggage of the "frontier". Not to mention the racism and colonialism of Heinerth's own teams descending upon places like the Caribbean and Mexico, ostensibly to further the "greater good" - but I can't help but wonder if they really left the places they went better than they found them.

There are also some attitudes toward disability and addiction when it comes to Heinerth's close friend and diver that really left a bad taste in my mouth.

All in all, meh.
Profile Image for Angélique (MapleBooks).
195 reviews10 followers
April 29, 2020
I guess I was expecting Into The Planet to be more about cave diving itself, more about the deep, what it looks like, what it teaches us, and so on. Instead, I found the book really centered on Jill Heinerth's ambition, career, and relationship with colleagues and the diving community, which couldn't interest me as much since I don't know her at all.
I enjoyed a few parts, for instance when she describes the teeming life under an iceberg in the Antarctic. Unfortunately, most of the book focuses on peripheric issues, for instance there is a 20-page part dedicated to the tough boat trip to the Antarctic which was downright boring. There was also, in my humble opinion, too much said about other people--from her husband throwing up due to major sea-sickness to a reknown diver's addiction to painkiller--and a lot of self-assertion: Heinerth often praises her achievements and emphasizes on the dangerousness of deep diving, but I felt telling her story should have done it for her.
At the end of the book, I felt like I knew her fairly well but not much about the deep.
This being said, I think I'll try to view one of her documentaries because I think in the end, a film or pictures would speak better than a million word.
Profile Image for Hannah Comerford.
158 reviews8 followers
April 3, 2021
"I'm not like all the other girls" came to mind repeatedly as I read this book. At times the author's perceived otherness comes across as genuine loneliness, while at other times it comes across as haughtiness. Her insistence on comparing herself to what she deemed more normal women became old quickly and permeated the book, leaving the sense of insecurity in the background of every chapter.

But what made this book most frustrating was the fact that the author continued to *tell* us this rather than *show* us everything from risks to habits to relationships. I wanted more anecdotes and more descriptions, less summary. I wanted to see a date with her current husband and read the story of their wedding or one of their exploits rather than get recaps (and really, by the end I had a much better sense of what her ex-husband was like because we got more of that). I wanted more of her personal life, more stories, less exposition.

And for the love, we don't need to be reminded every single chapter that cave diving is risky. I think we got it after the first death.

Ultimately, I think this book came across as more of a justification for the author's life than a memoir. Perhaps with another few drafts it would have become more engaging, but as it stands, it fell flat with me.
458 reviews3 followers
October 12, 2019
I attended Jill Heinerth's presentation of her work and life. Her talk was mesmerizing and so I bought the book. In order to truly appreciate the depths that she goes to (excuse the pun) to describe her life as a cave diver, you really need to see the visuals. That's where the book didn't satisfy my curiosity. It's fine to read about her explorations and discoveries but could one imagine what the moon looked like has we not seen the footage of their voyage? It's kind of the same thing with this book. This doesn't take away from the accomplishments of this amazing woman. As a reader, it's difficult for the mind to imagine what it has never seen.
Profile Image for Karen.
620 reviews96 followers
December 1, 2019
Heinerth is an amazing person, a modern-day explorer of some of the most dangerous environments in the planet. From remote Mexican jungles to the insides of icebergs in the Antarctic, she has dived through some truly terrifying and amazing conditions—and lived to tell the tale. I really enjoyed her humility, her good cheer, her grit, and her low-key frankness about the toxic masculinity culture that endangers lives and robs joy from doing this dangerous, demanding work. She’s great company and she tells great stories.
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