Part American road trip, part coming-of-age adventure, and part uncommon love storyâ€”a remarkable memoir that explores the evolution of the human-animal relationship, along with the raw beauty of a life lived outdoors.
Melissa Chapman was 23 years old and part of a happy, loving family. She had a decent job, a boyfriend she cared about, and friends she enjoyed. Yet she said goodbye to all of it. Carrying a puppy named Gypsy, she climbed aboard a horse and rode away from everything, heading west.
With no cell phone, no GPS, no support team or truck following with supplies, Chapman quickly learned that the reality of a cross-country horseback journey was quite different from the fantasy. Her solo adventure would immediately test her mental, physical, and emotional resources as she and her four-legged companions were forced to adapt to the dangers and loneliness of a trek that would span over 2,600 miles, beginning in New York State and reaching its end on the other side of the country, in California.
Enchanted by the freedom a nomadic life seemed to promise, the young woman would soon find herself only more deeply connectedâ€¦to the animals that accompanied her, to the varying and challenging landscapes through which she traveled, and to the people she met on the farms and back roads that crisscross the United States. Chapman's vigilance in detailing the quietest moments of heroism and beauty, as well as the startling and tragic, yields a read that convinces one of both the magnificence of the countryside and the generosity of the people who call it home. A book for the equestrian, the animal lover, and the outdoor enthusiastâ€”or anyone who dreams about one day bringing a longed-for adventure to life.