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The Adventurer's Son: A Memoir

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  1,093 ratings  ·  239 reviews
A brave and marvelous book. A page-turner that will rip your heart out.--Jon Krakauer

In the tradition of Into the Wild comes an instant classic of outdoor literature, a riveting work of uncommon depth. I'm planning on doing 4 days in the jungle. . . . It should be difficult to get lost forever: These were the haunting last words legendary adventurer Roman Dial received
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Published February 18th 2020 by HarperCollins
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I think it's as much the author's own memoir as it is the story of the loss of his son, so the title and the details of the author's own history made…more

I think it's as much the author's own memoir as it is the story of the loss of his son, so the title and the details of the author's own history made sense to me. The handwringing did too- he introduced his son to this life and supported him in it. Many parents who have lost a child question their role in what happened. The short shrift given the daughter bothered me at first too, but this was not her story; had it been, I'm sure it would have looked very different.(less)
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Kathryn in FL
1/5/2020 Update

Thank you goodreads for dumping my 10 paragraph essay, analyzing the numerous insights offered in this book. I only spent nearly two hours writing out the salient points and you didn't save any of it. I spent a great deal of time thinking about this work to share with others and because the owner of this website doesn't fix these timeouts (this is not even the fifth time such a loss has happened to me), whatever flaw that makes this occur, needs to be remedied to continue to
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was interested in this book because I love Krakauer (who blurbed it and I guess helped edit) and part of the reason I love Krakauer is because my brother is an outdoorsman/risk taker/adventurer type, and I am *so* not. So I'm always seeking to understand the whys and the hows of this way of life. Thus, when I read these books there is always the judgy voice in my head saying, are you *f-ing* nuts, why in a world with so many natural, everyday risks, would you, say, as in this particular book, ...more
In his new memoir, The Adventurers Son, Roman Dial writes about his sons 2014 disappearance in the untamed rainforest of Costa Rico. Roman is an Alaskan biologist, mountaineer, and overall fan of risky travels and adventures. He shared his love of these endeavors with his son Cody and now he experiences a parents most dreaded fear after his son fails to report back after a particularly treacherous solo hike in the remote jungle.
While slow-moving, this is a harrowing story of a parents worst
Sharon Huether
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs, adventure
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Patricia West
Dec 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I easily give this book five stars. It is an amazing book. The adventurous life described in this book, of both the father and son, was made a fascinating read. I loved the colorful descriptions of life in the wilderness. Their relationship described was heartwarming. My heart broke for the father in his search for his missing son. But, he never gave up until he got his answer. It's a memoir I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a good read.
M. Sarki
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
After trudging through 25% of this highly anticipated book, with all the great blurbs by peers such as Jon Krakauer, I had to quit reading it. The backstory Dial was providing was all about Dial and how hard he worked teaching his son Cody the ways of the wild. It is unfortunate that Roman did not begin the book with his search for his lost son. Throughout what can only be imagined as an agonizing operation he could have provided the necessary backstory details to emphasize the preparedness ...more
Bonnie Brody
Mar 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The Adventurers Son is the heart wrenching memoir of famed adventurer Roman Dial as he desperately tries to find his son, missing in the jungle of Costa Rica. Cody Roman Dial, like his father, was an intrepid adventurer, a scientist enthralled by the wonders of the natural world. He was 27 years old when he sent his last email home telling of his plan to hike a famously difficult and dangerous trail through the Costa Rican jungle.

As soon as Roman realized his son was overdue, he flew to Costa
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a Goodreads win review. This is the most awesome, heartfelt book I Have read in a long time. The author was always out climbing, and rafting, and doing backcountry races and he got high degrees in College. He traveled to other countries and his kids loved all the same things. His son went on an adventure to the jungles and off paths in Costa Rica and then they did not hear from him again. They searched for him and after a long while found the remains of his body. They think he died from ...more
Nicole Jacobs
Dec 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of this book. I cannot imagine how difficult it was for Roman Dial to write this book, although I can see how it might be cathartic in some way. In the age of social media, we tend to forget that there is a human element out there, and I thank the author for writing this book that not only highlights what had to be a harrowing experience, but also highlights the love a father has for his son and his family. The grief was palpable through the pages. ...more
Oct 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a Goodreads Giveaway that I won and an advance copy--yay, so cool!!! This was an extremely well-written book. This is a very heavy subject so many things come to mind. I can't imagine the sorrow and heartbreak. Mr. Dial questions his parenting. There is no doubt that he was a very good father. He loved his son very, very much. In this day and age, I question the parents that don't love or treasure their children and abandon, neglect and harm them horribly. The horror stories of that ...more
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2020
This was riveting and heartbreaking and I didn't want to put it down. Highly recommended! Full review to come soon.
Linda Munro
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this via a goodreads giveaway.

This is the memoir of Roman Dial, an outdoorsman, an adventurer, a teacher a father. It looks back on the life Roman has provided for his children, especially his son. Throughout the book, there is a sense of foreboding doom; there is also am underlying sense of parental guilt. Do you give your child unlimited access to the natural beauty surrounding you and the danger that goes with it, or do you keep them close, smother them with love?

When Romans 27
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author's son disappeared on the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica in 2014, five years after my husband and I spent a blissful part of our honeymoon there. We were ensconced in a pricey eco-lodge, admiring scarlet macaws, coatimundi, and awakened by howler monkeys. We marveled in the glamour of sleeping under mosquito nets and choosing from three different showers in our private bungalow (I regret not a single cent!). Meanwhile, the author of this book raised his children embracing a level of ...more
Ben Werner
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sleeping in the Forest

I thought the earth
remembered me, she
took me back so tenderly, arranging
her dark skirts, her pockets
full of lichens and seeds. I slept
as never before, a stone
on the riverbed, nothing
between me and the white fire of the stars
but my thoughts, and they floated
light as moths among the branches
of the perfect trees. All night
I heard the small kingdoms breathing
around me, the insects, and the birds
who do their work in the darkness. All night
I rose and fell, as if in water,
Tyler Wampler
Mar 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a beautifully written book that will stick with me for a long time. It documents the story of a father in search of his missing son. Be prepared to go on a heart-wrenching rollercoaster of emotions. Most of all the book documents Roman Dials amazing relationship with his son through his own words and experiences. Its a must read. Especially if you enjoy real life adventure literature. ...more
Mar 18, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sad and thorough memoir of a father's search for his lost son.
Lee Adams
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was incredible. I can count on one hand the number of books that have left me feeling the author's pain so profoundly.
Justin Ryan
I wanted to like this one more than I did. I haven't read many memoirs, and maybe they are arrogant to begin with, but the authors tone just felt smug and got in the way of the story for me. It was also hard for me to feel much sympathy for what happened to his son when it seemed like he was just asking for it by ignoring the law and common sense in his quest.
Michelle Arredondo
I had a tough month thanks to this book. I don't know whether to thank the Author or blast him for this. Thanks to this book I left laundry undone, dishes dirty, and kids neglected. Kidding about the kids. My point is....I enjoyed this much...too much. It was wonderful. A great read.

The life of Mr. Roman Dial, trials and tribulations, the nightmare he endured when his son went missing during an expedition. It's harrowing. There will be tears. Again, I could not put the book down. How
Evelyn Wilson
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I won this book through Goodreads Giveaways. I am surprised and how much I enjoyed reading this book because in April 2017 I lost my LT Navy daughter. We believe her husband is responsible. We are working on Justice. I was not sad or upset reading this book. It is a wonderful, evaluation and feeling of doubt you are a good parent when you lose a child. Why didn't we take better care of our daughter, why didn't we get her away from him? Just like Roman and Peggy. I am glad they are closer to Jazz ...more
Oct 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book. A heart-breaking story of a father's 2-year search for the truth about his son's disappearance. This was an advanced reader's copy and the only complaint I have is that the photos were not very clear and the maps were too small. Hopefully that will be remedied before it is published. I highly recommend this book.
I worried the entire book would be about the search for Dial's missing son but turned out the first half was about his own life and that of his son who were both extreme adventurists (I love that kind of stuff), and the second half involved the excruciating and heartwrenching search for his missing son in the jungles of Costa Rica. Along the way, Dial includes personal details about their relationship and a bit of personal reflection about how his love of adventure has affected his family.


Roman Dials account of his son disappearing during a hike in the Costa Rican jungle gave me an insight into how the truly adventurous live and why they often risk their lives in extreme corners of the world.

Dials writing was beautiful, but it left me surprisingly unmoved. I think this is probably due to his academic and professional background being in the sciences - just a guess. I expected to cry and feel the shadow of his grief (Im annoyingly empathetic when it comes to these types of
Di Richardson
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Both beautiful and heartbreaking. I cannot even imagine the agony of having one of your children disappear, let alone have it happen in another country where law enforcement is less than helpful. Roman Dial is a scientist and adventurer, which Is more extreme than just an outdoorsman. He raised his family in Alaska, and they traveled all over the world hiking, camping, climbing, etc. His son, Cody Roman Dial, also a scientist, was a very experienced adventurer and explorer. So when 27 year old ...more
R Fontaine
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
As a father who has a son that walked solo the Appalachian trail and the worry and concern that followed him unknown as we tracked his progress is an emotional comparison to Codys ultimate risks and the wonder of wonder that is the challenge of a life, though tragically short, well lived. This is also a story of his fathers herculean attempt to first rescue his son, then dig into what made him disappear into the dense jungles of Costa Rico. While tragic, the best tale of bravado and and skill ...more
Kathleen Graves
I won this title through Goodreads Giveaways. This book was heartbreaking and beautifully written. As a scientist I found the recounts of the family's adventures to be fascinating and as a mother I found the story of the son's disappearance to be devastating. I loved how well the father described his parenting and how it changed as his son grew and the raw openness he expressed throughout the loss of his son and search for closure. It was a honorable tribute to his son and absolutely worth the ...more

Book 1 of Isolation book club:

Very interesting story but I found it lacked emotion especially around his sons death. It was definitely more of a memoir for the dad than a story about his sons grand adventure ending in his death. I wouldnt have picked it up otherwise though so Im glad to have another non-fiction under my mostly fiction belt.
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Riveting and heartbreaking. A must-read if you enjoy man vs. nature narratives or if you think you are familiar with Dial's story.
AJ Dreadfulwater
REMARKABLE. A memoir of relationship that parents life with adventure itself. A father and a son...and their bond and risk with the treacherous beauty and intrigue of Mother Nature.

A modern day Into the Wild...with entirely different background and prestige. Heartbreaking.
Angus McKeogh
Feb 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A slow-starting but ultimately fairly gripping memoir about a professor with an adrenaline addiction whos son goes missing on a trek into the Costa Rican jungle. Essentially a quest for answers and the main take away point is dont go missing in foreign countries. The majority of the book revolves around the difficulties of mounting a search effort overseas and/or in third world countries. As I said the beginning was a little slow and that coupled with the fact that it didnt end up being among my ...more
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Roman Dial lives in Anchorage, Alaska with his wife Peggy and Icelandic Sheepdog Poppy. A professor of mathematics and biology at Alaska Pacific University since 1992, he is also an avid adventurer.

He's written two books: Packrafting! An Introduction and How-to Guide and The Adventurer's Son, which was released February 18, 2020 by William Morrow and imprint of Harper Collins.

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