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Publisher's Summary

2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning memoirist of Barbarian Days William Finnegan had devoted his days to chasing waves as a lifelong surfer. When his adolescent daughter, Mollie, proves to be a natural-born climber, Finnegan follows his newfound passion toward rock climbing. It’s an arduous apprenticeship, and it turns the parent-child dynamic on its head, as Mollie slips into the role of coach and mentor, while her father has to push his limits to keep pace.

Finnegan takes listeners deep into the world of climbing–indoors and out, from climbing gyms to rock faces in Central Park, Mexico and Canada. Mollie, a wry and gentle soul who had shown no previous interest in sports, grows into a ferociously gifted climber, and she leads the way. What begins as a hobby for the father-daughter duo becomes an obsession, as they start taking every opportunity to slip on their climbing shoes, chalk up their hands, and attack problems, climber-speak for routes. They learn a new language of specialized moves and rock types, they seek tougher climbs and forge new memories–not just muscle memories. Through it all, they add a new dimension to their relationship. 

As he and Mollie start climbing outdoors, tackling harder and higher climbs, the endeavor increasingly takes on another aspect: danger, which climbers call exposure. Finnegan offers a candid and gripping look at risk, fear, and humility in the pursuit of a perilous hobby. While he navigates the boundaries of trust and adventure, as well as the far edge of his physical limits, he reminds listeners that to fall is to be human.

This Audible Original includes an additional interview Finnegan did with his daughter, Mollie, for the story. 

©2019 William Finnegan (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC.

Our favorite moments from Climbing with Mollie

Mollie surprises her parents with her climbing ability.
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"I felt like I had her with me..."
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"…but that seemed less important than pursuing this new obsession together."
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  • Climbing with Mollie
  • Mollie surprises her parents with her climbing ability.
  • Climbing with Mollie
  • "I felt like I had her with me..."
  • Climbing with Mollie
  • "…but that seemed less important than pursuing this new obsession together."

Publisher's Summary

2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning memoirist of Barbarian Days William Finnegan had devoted his days to chasing waves as a lifelong surfer. When his adolescent daughter, Mollie, proves to be a natural-born climber, Finnegan follows his newfound passion toward rock climbing. It’s an arduous apprenticeship, and it turns the parent-child dynamic on its head, as Mollie slips into the role of coach and mentor, while her father has to push his limits to keep pace.

Finnegan takes listeners deep into the world of climbing–indoors and out, from climbing gyms to rock faces in Central Park, Mexico and Canada. Mollie, a wry and gentle soul who had shown no previous interest in sports, grows into a ferociously gifted climber, and she leads the way. What begins as a hobby for the father-daughter duo becomes an obsession, as they start taking every opportunity to slip on their climbing shoes, chalk up their hands, and attack problems, climber-speak for routes. They learn a new language of specialized moves and rock types, they seek tougher climbs and forge new memories–not just muscle memories. Through it all, they add a new dimension to their relationship. 

As he and Mollie start climbing outdoors, tackling harder and higher climbs, the endeavor increasingly takes on another aspect: danger, which climbers call exposure. Finnegan offers a candid and gripping look at risk, fear, and humility in the pursuit of a perilous hobby. While he navigates the boundaries of trust and adventure, as well as the far edge of his physical limits, he reminds listeners that to fall is to be human.

This Audible Original includes an additional interview Finnegan did with his daughter, Mollie, for the story. 

©2019 William Finnegan (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC.
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About the Creator and Performer

William Finnegan has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1987. He has reported from South Africa, Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan, Mexico, Central America, South America, Spain, Britain, Australia, Madagascar, Ukraine, Moldova, the Gulf States, and the Balkans, as well as from many places in the United States. He has written primarily about politics, war, poverty, race, US foreign policy, organized crime, globalization, and surfing. He is the author of five books: Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life (2015); Cold New World: Growing Up in a Harder Country; A Complicated War: The Harrowing of Mozambique; Dateline Soweto: Travels with Black South African Reporters; and Crossing the Line: A Year in the Land of Apartheid. His work has won many awards, including two Overseas Press Club awards and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography for Barbarian Days. Barbarian Days, which has been a New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback, has been translated into 10 languages. Finnegan’s work has also appeared in Granta, Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, and other magazines. Finnegan takes his talents to audio narrating Barbarian Days and Climbing with Mollie, both available on Audible. He lives in New York City with his wife and daughter.

What listeners say about Climbing with Mollie

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

I would Like a New Dad, Please and Thank You

I receive this as a free Audible original and dove right in, since I find climbing interesting. This is an interesting perspective on climbing, for someone who doesn’t climb.

However, what really grabbed me with this story is that I would do about anything to have had a father that loved me in the way Finnegan loves Mollie. She is one lucky girl. You can hear it in every sentence, how much he is in awe of and respects his own daughter. He has zero problem admitting that she is strong and smart in ways that maybe he isn't. There’s just something really beautiful about that, and so I’m happy I read this one.

The only thing I really wanted from this one was more.

53 people found this helpful

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Great listen!

Loved hearing about how he created a connection with his daughter through climbing. It's a great example of the joy in letting a child discover her passion and supporting her in it.

19 people found this helpful

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Insipid and mostly just indulgent

It’s hard to imagine anything more predictable than the story of a late in life Boomer parent with an only child suddenly becoming absorbed in his child’s passion. I’m delighted that William Finnegan admires his daughter and learn something about climbing from her. I fail to see anything about this story, however, that most listeners would consider engaging, uplifting, or elucidating.

6 people found this helpful

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A nice personal memoir / tribute; but not a book

1. I received this as a monthly Audible freebee; they're usually a 50/50 proposition, but then again, it's free.
2. In that this author is a writer by profession, this "book" is well written and narrated. Furthermore, it's a heartwarming / personal recounting of the author's relationship with his young daughter during her formative years, centering on rock climbing. However, millions... billions of people around the world can tell their own personal stories. but this doesn't mean it should become a book and if some bizarre reason it becomes a book, that it would be deemed as a worthwhile book to actual read. The fact that this author (who again is a writer by profession) thought this memoir would somehow be of interest to others and more importantly impart something of value to others is suggestive of his self absorption as well as the general societal hyper focus on "me, me, me". I almost forgot the most important criticism, this book has no point! How did this guy gain and maintain employment as a writer?

6 people found this helpful

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Great for parents

I liked this short story of a father's relationship to his daughter and vice versa.

This is a great mustread for any parents!
Thanks for sharing!

13 people found this helpful

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I'm not even a climber, but I enjoyed it a lot

I particularly like books narrated by the author, and this is one of those. This is subtly about a relationship between father and daughter, also educational about climbing. I thought it might be boring, but it was free and outdoors, so decided to try it. I was fully interested all the way through this short book. I found myself imagining myself climbing with them or watching...I could imagine myself there and feel the pain or the fear or the triumph with them. I found it uplifting overall.

12 people found this helpful

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Struggled

Struggled to get into this one. Nothing really caught my attention in the first hour so I just couldn’t listen any longer

5 people found this helpful

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Fabulous father/daughter description of climbing

A wonderful description of a father’s and daughter’s bond built around climbing, along with a fascinating description of the sport of climbing.

12 people found this helpful

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Climbing with Mollie review

This book was just like going to a party and getting stuck with that one proud dad that talks about his daughter way too long, to a crowd who just doesnt care. This dad isnt really saying much of anything.

7 people found this helpful

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Voice Changes

Not even done with this book yet but the voice changes are driving me nuts! It seems like a totally different person narrates one paragraph and then goes back to the original. Maybe it’s just an equipment or mixing issue but it is very distracting.

3 people found this helpful