So Long as It’s Wild: Standing Strong After My Famous Walk Across America

Dexterity: K-LOVE. Sept. 2023. 304p. ISBN 9781947297715. $27.95. MEMOIR
“What happened to Barbara? She walked across America too,” is the question Jenkins answers in her stirring solo memoir. In 1973, Peter Jenkins began a walk from New York to Oregon. En route, at a New Orleans Baptist seminary, he met Barbara Jo Pennell, who was earning her master’s degree after an impoverished childhood in the Ozarks. Courtship and marriage followed, and Barbara joined Peter on the western half of the trek, from mid-1976 to January 1979. This book candidly describes the highs and lows of her adventure, including nature’s beauty, charitable strangers, near-death experiences, and her husband’s verbal abuse while she edited his manuscripts or physically struggled to keep up. Their walk made them celebrities who appeared on the cover of National Geographic and coauthored several best-selling books, although lawyers later tried to discredit Barbara’s literary contributions during divorce proceedings. The single mother of three disappeared from the limelight—until now.
VERDICT Christian readers and fans of Tara Westover’s Educated or Cheryl Strayed’s Wild will be captivated by this inspirational journey of self-discovery and reinvention.
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