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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Appalachian Trail is a contemporary fiction novel written by Darren Drevik. Nate Townsend had always been an early riser. He loved the quiet expectation that filled the predawn moments. This morning was different, however, as he was saying goodbye to his home on Seal Island in Maine and the rocky shoreline and crashing waves that surrounded it. Nate was setting out on the Appalachian Trail, as do thousands of hikers each year. His experience would be a bit different than most of them as he would start out at Katahdin, the Northern terminus located in Baxter State Park, instead of the more popular South to North route starting at Springer Mountain in Georgia. He wasn't seeking any traveling companions on the trail and had used his hiking experience and professional knowledge gained from working at L.L. Bean to cobble together the perfect hiker's pack and supplies. His childhood friend, David, would be driving him up to Baxter and staying the night in the cabin Nate had reserved. Then the two would part company as Nate began his journey.
I knew I had to read Darren Drevik's contemporary fiction novel, Appalachian Trail, when I found out about it. There's something that draws my interest and imagination about this monumental hiking experience, and I've read many memoirs written by through-hikers. So, I wondered how a novel based on such an experience would work. As I read, I had to stop at times and look at the cover of the book once again to remind myself that this was a novel and not a memoir. Nate was not a real living person, but it became difficult to always remember that. I could envision his Appalachian Trail hike as vividly as those written by actual hikers, even if there were not quite so many details of each section of trail and no photographs of the hiker brandishing hiking poles. Instead, Nate's coming of age story wound through his hiking adventure. I loved reading about his family's move from Eastern Tennessee to Maine, especially his early morning walk with Eston King, the groundskeeper of the estate where the family had camped in their car overnight. There's also the tension and sense of finality in Nate's journey that keeps the reader on edge, wondering just what had happened to his family and what would happen at trail's end. Drevik's through-hiker Nate is compelling and believable, and his Appalachian Trail experience feels and reads like the real thing. Appalachian Trail: A Novel is most highly recommended.