Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace by Andra Watkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Not Without My Father” is ambitious adventure memoir. It is funny, poignant, agonizing, raunchy, and delightfully “out there.” Andra Watkins shows her mettle throughout the book and is not afraid to show her weakness, her doubt, and her sometimes dysfunctional relationship with her parents. The story moves skillfully between despair, hope, anger, and elation. I found it hard to put down once I settled into its rhythm.
Roy Lee Watkins, the father the story refuses to be without, spins his yarns and shares his own despair, doubt, and hope. His constant sparring with his daughter (they both know exactly which buttons to push) offers insight into a universal clash of generations, of fathers and daughters, and by Roy’s telling, fathers and sons, too. This memoir definitely contributes to the literature of the family dynamic.
I think it is a writer’s book, which is high praise. Ms. Watkins sums it up simply as she nears the bittersweet end of her journey:
“My body always did things my mind doubted. Growth happened when I overcame my mind.”
It is a story of raw wounds, both physical and emotional, and great heartfelt healing. The Watkins family courageously shows the good, the bad, the ugly, and the sublime. You cannot read this book without gaining insights about the American family that will probably enlighten you when it comes to some of your very own family dynamics.
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