Monday, February 11, 2013

Book Review: Dandelion Growing Wild, by Kim Jones

Sometimes a connection is felt when reading another’s personal life story and this is one of those times. Over the past few days, I have enjoyed pouring through the 21 chapters in Kim Jones’ recently self-published autobiography, Dandelion Growing Wild: A triumphant journey over astounding odds by American marathon champion.

Although not known as a trail runner, Kim’s childhood was filled with barefoot running all over Fort Worden's trails in Port Townsend, Washington. She ran everywhere, all over that town and all over those trails in what is now Fort Worden State Park.

That running, as well as countless miles on the roads over the years, developed Kim’s running style and led her to become one of the top marathoners in the world possessing a PR of 2:26:40 set in 1991.

But Kim’s story is not just about putting one foot in front of the other. Her story is one of growth, resilience, tragedy, and adventures told in a remarkably honest and down-to-earth manner. The writing is very raw at times showing Kim’s tenacity and courage over seemingly insurmountable odds. She takes the reader on a journey from the earliest stages of her youth through her emergence into adulthood, as she redefines herself through life’s many learned lessons.

The book is an emotional read. There are the tears when learning about her father’s suicidal tendencies related to mental illness, the death of her siblings, and teen pregnancy. At the same time, joyous occasions are recounted that create laughter and happiness.

Running is a thread which is expertly woven throughout the book. We learn about the ups and downs from Kim’s days of high school track, as well as the successes and failures she faced as a world-class athlete. Even if one is not an athlete, a connection is made with the author because with each running moment, day-to-day activities – which are often anything but mundane – are paired with the training, the racing, the recovery. It is never just about the running when you include the daily life pursuits of a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter, and a friend.

Once you pick up this book and start reading the first of its 453 pages, you will find yourself at times wanting to jump ahead to see what happens later in Kim’s story. However, be sure to read this book from cover to cover so you don’t miss a single moment of this very personal story from an amazing and inspiring author.

Order your copy, which is available in paperback on Amazon and on Kindle, at this link.

Story by Nancy Hobbs - Executive Director - American Trail Running Association