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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Inside: One Woman's Journey Through the Inside Passage is a non-fiction adventure memoir written by Susan Marie Conrad. Conrad grew up loving the water despite her parents' fear of it, and, when she moved to Montana, she experienced being in a kayak for the first time. The closeness of the water and the sensation of being an integral part of her water craft immediately had her hooked on kayaking. In 2009, almost twenty years after that first transcendent foray into Flathead Lake in Montana, Conrad decided that she would solo kayak the Inside Passage, which spans from Anacortes, Washington along the coast of British Columbia up into Alaska, terminating in Skagway. She had long been inspired by her long-time friend, Jim Chester's own experiences on the challenging route. Then, after watching her father's precipitous decline and death from Alzheimer's and reading a memoir of a woman who had also kayaked the Inner Passage, Conrad decided that she would also make that trip to Alaska -- and she would do it on her own. It was a wildly exciting and even dangerous idea, but with the proper training, charts, and the help of her mentor and friend, it was something she knew she could do.
Susan Marie Conrad's non-fiction adventure memoir, Inside: One Woman's Journey Through the Inside Passage, had me thinking about getting into a kayak from the moment I first saw her outstanding cover photo showing her trusty kayak, Chamellia, with icebergs and snow-capped mountains in the background. Conrad shares so much of her experience with the reader, from practicing rolls and other maneuvers in her health club's heated pool in preparation for the trip to figuring out how to compress and pack her gear into every free space in her craft. Her story is an illuminating and inspiring one. She shares both the highlights of her trip and those low moments when the rain seems to last forever and her gear stays soggy and damp. Conrad’s writing style is smooth and conversational, and, throughout my reading experience, I felt as though she were personally telling me her story. I enjoyed every minute of this action-packed and exciting memoir. She also includes a gallery of outstanding photographs, recommended readings, and her inventory of gear in the appendices. Inside: One Woman's Journey Through the Inside Passage is most highly recommended.