Monday, October 5, 2009

Angels in the Wilderness: The True Story of One Woman's Survival Against All Odds

Amy Racina
Elite Books (2009)
ISBN 9781600700668
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views

I've never thought of myself as anything but a brave person. I don't shy away from adversity, I welcome challenges and very little throws me off for any length of time. After having finished "Angels in the Wilderness," a book on true courage, I have to admit I might have to rethink my assessment of my own bravery. Compared to Ms. Racina, I am a wimp.
Before I tell you what her book is about, I'd like to tell you what this book is not. It is not pretentious, not bragging, not self-aggrandizing and not preachy. What it is, in short, is an unbelievable story of a hiking trip gone haywire and a fantastic rescue and recuperation of an incredibly brave woman, who manages to find the best in even the most adverse situation and overcomes incredible odds to survive, heal and thrive again, while also discovering some more truths about herself and those around her.
On that fateful trip in the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains Ms. Racina fell sixty-feet onto solid granite, in the process shattering both her legs and sustaining a variety of other smaller injuries. Having lost the trail shortly before that, and already hiking one of the less-traveled areas, the chances of her rescue were slim to none. In spite of the debilitating injuries she managed to drag herself a short distance from the site of her fall over the period of the next three days, a distance that has probably saved her life since three hikers were able to find her on the third day of her ordeal. She was rescued and airlifted out at the end of the fourth day, and treated by the capable and dedicated staff at the UMC in Fresno. Her friends rallied around her and against all odds Ms. Racina healed to the extent where she is perfectly capable of hiking again.
I absolutely loved "Angels in the Wilderness," both for Ms. Racina's compelling writing and her incredible courage. Her descriptions of nature and what hiking means to her were powerful and beautiful. Her ruminations on faith and tenacity, gifts we are all given, and ways we decide to accept them or not were thought-provoking, wise and definitely worth remembering. If you are struggling with a difficult situation and see no way out, you could do much worse than follow Ms. Racina's 12 steps, the spiritual tools for physical survival, which are:
 1.  Look, listen and learn.
 2.  Create a world in which help is available to those who need it.  
3.  Know what you want the outcome to be.
 4.  Never give up.
 5.  Acknowledge the interplay between attachment and surrender.
 6.  Allow for the unexpected.
 7.  Narrow your focus.
 8.  Look for the good.
 9.  Make a plan.
10. Do everything you can.
11. Count.
12.  Pray.
If some of those steps sound unclear to you, pick up Amy Racina's "Angels in the Wilderness." You will be glad you decided to do that.