Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver

Ecco: HarperCollins. Aug. 2019. 288p. notes. ISBN 9780062691545. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062691569. MEMOIR
Heinerth (The Basics of Rebreather Diving) takes readers on an engrossing journey through her life as a cave diver. She began after a traumatic event in young adulthood that challenged her to manage and overcome fear, a catalyst that inspired her to pursue a career thriving in the shadow of danger. Deftly describing the thrills of exploring some of the world’s deepest and longest water systems, Heinerth doesn’t shy away from the concomitant perils, relating close calls with rogue currents, equipment failures, and decompression sickness, as well as numerous hazards outside the water in locations from Mexico to Antarctica. Heinerth is frank about the ambitions and stresses that led to the failure of her first marriage, as well as her continuing effort to balance the excitement of discovery with its physical tolls and the loss of colleagues. Just as harrowing as her dive experiences are the author’s descriptions of misogyny, envy, and a culture of toxic competitiveness in some pockets of the diving community.
VERDICT Even readers who have never ventured into the water will identify with and appreciate Heinerth’s struggles to overcome fear, adversity, and societal expectations to establish a life of her own choosing.

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