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Publisher's Summary

During a culture-shocked exchange year in Japan, 15-year-old Lisa Dempster's imagination is ignited by the story of the henro michi, an arduous 1,200-kilometre Buddhist pilgrimage through the mountains of Japan.

Perfectly suiting the romantic view of herself as a dusty, travel-worn explorer (well, one day), she promises to return to Japan and walk the henro michi, one way or another, as soon as humanely possible.

Fast-forward 13 years, and Lisa's life is vastly different to what she pictured it would be. Severely depressed, socially withdrawn, overweight, on the dole and living with her mum, she is 28 and miserable. And then, completely by chance, the henro michi comes back into her life, through a book at her local library. It's a sign. She decides then and there to go back to Japan almost immediately: to walk the henro michi, and walk herself back to health.

Brushing aside the barriers that other people might find daunting - the 1,200km of mountainous terrain, the sweltering Japanese summer, the fact she has no money and has never done a multiday hike before - Lisa is determined to walk the pilgrimage - or die trying.

©2017 Lisa Dempster (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

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  • John S.
  • Seattle, WA United States
  • 03-29-18

Wasn't sure at first, but glad I got it

I started this book as I wanted something inspirational, and this one sure didn't disappoint! Author starts out the story overweight depressed and generally rather a mess; ends up quite an international success for her achievement.

It helped that she speaks very good Japanese, having been an exchange student on Shikoku earlier. On the other hand, she's vegan, which presents quite a challenge in such a fish-based culinary landscape. I wouldn't say, however, that it's a book about Japanese culture as such directly. Her encounters are with folks along the Route as a pilgrim, rather than a genuine tourist or expat. It's her story of finding herself primarily.

I suppose if I had to find one negative aspect to the story, it's that she certainly seems to vomit quite a bit. So much so that I was near certain she was pregnant. Still, for a novice hiker, and writer, she manages proves the adage: You don't know until you try!

Audio narration came through well, so a good decision not to hire an outside narrator.

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  • Mrs Gill White
  • 02-22-18

brilliant story of self discovery

very similar to Wild by Cheryl Strayed, but with the additional interest of this Japanese Buddhist pilgrimage