A soaring memoir of longing, resilience and delight in the natural world.
Patti and her family grew up in country Australia. While she lives with her siblings, she and her brother Barney may as well be strangers. Barney teases Patti. He defies their parents. He’s sensible and pragmatic. She’s wild and free. Patti doesn’t understand what makes her brother tick. Which is why when he announces his obsession with paragliding, she realises she never really knew her brother at all. Surely, they could never have something in common?
When a devastating paragliding accident leaves Barney with a broken spine, Patti and her brother’s relationship starts to change, and Patti realises they do have something that connects them. Patti is a long-distance walker. She sees walking as a way to return to the basis of what it means to be human. Barney has a similar experience when flying. They both find joy in the wildness of nature.
Barney is on a mission to walk again; a mission that crosses over with Patti’s long-distance journeying across Europe. We see their trials, their triumphs and the determination both siblings have to get back up again, to keep going. Both Patti and Barney face their own challenges in their journey, they have their own fears to overcome and their own victories to celebrate. But they’re also able to share their experiences and Patti grows closer to her brother through these experiences. She gets the very rare opportunity of getting to “meet” her brother for the first time – again.
This is a beautiful and motivating story. Patti Miller has told both her own and her brother’s stories with such passion that they are truly magical to read. She taps into the base human emotions, weaving intense descriptions of bone-crippling fear, but also soul enriching happiness. This will appeal to anyone who finds their solace in, and is regenerated by, nature. The wilderness depicted in this book, and in real life, is filled with risks and dangers. But for many, Patti and Barney included, the risk is well worth the reward. And for those less inclined, this book may just change your mind. It is a moving and delightful tale of the beauty of nature, the importance of human connection, and a determination that can cross mountains and soar through skies.