Feral: Losing Myself and Finding My Way in America’s National Parks Spiral-Bound | February 1, 2023

Emily Pennington

★★★☆☆+ from 1,001 to 10,000 ratings

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A bracing memoir about self-discovery, liberating escape, and moving forward across an adventurous and volatile American landscape. One year. One national park at a time.

This is it. No more California. I’m sifting into the underbelly of where the nomads go.

After a decade as an assistant to high-powered LA executives, Emily Pennington left behind her structured life and surrendered to the pull of the great outdoors. With a tight budget, meticulous routing, and a temperamental minivan she named Gizmo, Emily embarked on a yearlong road trip to sixty-two national parks, hell-bent on a single goal: getting through the adventure in one piece. She was instantly thrust into more chaos than she’d bargained for and found herself on an unpredictable journey rocked by a gutting romantic breakup, a burgeoning pandemic, wildfires, and other seismic challenges that threatened her safety, her sanity, and the trip itself.

What began as an intrepid obsession soon evolved into a life-changing experience. Navigating the tangle of life’s unexpected sucker punches, Feral invites readers along on Emily’s grand, blissful, and sometimes perilous journey, where solitude, resilience, self-reliance, and personal transformation run wild.

Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Original Binding: Trade Paperback
Pages: 270 pages
ISBN-10: 1542039703
Item Weight: 0.6 lbs
Dimensions: 8.0 x 1.11 x 10.0 inches
Customer Reviews: 3 out of 5 stars 1,001 to 10,000 ratings

“The author’s unflinching honesty and the boldness of her inner and outer journeys are the two great strengths of a book…[that] succeeds in offering a moving portrait of a woman who came into her own by learning to let go.…Fierce, candid reading.” Kirkus Reviews

“Pennington lyrically describes the wonders of the natural world, and she examines her solo life on the road with unsentimental insight. Readers will relish this hopeful portrayal of personal growth.” Publishers Weekly

“In this visceral memoir, travel writer Pennington depicts a year devoted to visiting 62 U.S. national parks…Pennington’s story of personal growth is told with unflinching insight and immense awe at the natural wonders she encounters; her expressive storytelling is sure to engage and inspire readers.” Booklist

“We can only aspire to the curiosity, pluck, and delight exhibited in Emily Pennington’s Feral despite the boulders and storms life might have tumbled at her.” —Nick Offerman, author of Where the Deer and the Antelope Play and Paddle Your Own Canoe

“Emily peels back the superficial layers of van life with unflinching honesty to reveal the beautifully frustrating reality that is life on the road, while also gifting readers with important epiphanies set in our beloved national parks. This is a must read for anyone who values public land, our environment, and compelling storytelling.” —Craig Grossi, author of Craig & Fred and Second Chances

“Please read Emily Pennington’s brilliantly written story about her year visiting our national parks. It is filled with the savage beauty, historical depth, and existential joy nature has to share with all of us. Do not miss this extraordinary adventure.” —Lyn Lear, Emmy-nominated filmmaker and environmental activist

“Self-improvement, but also connection. The rush of new challenges, but also the tranquility of quiet moments. Emily Pennington travels for all the right reasons, and we’re so lucky she’s brought us along on the adventure of a lifetime.” —Sebastian Modak, editor-at-large at Lonely Planet and former New York Times 52 Places Traveler

“Emily’s vivid memoir is for anyone seeking what could be, rather than accepting what is. Her national park journey is a testament to life-changing relationships, finding oneself, and the transformative power of the outdoors.” —Heather Balogh Rochfort, adventure journalist and author of Women Who Hike

“Emily was facing major obstacles as she set out on a huge adventure to visit every US national park, from a breakup to the onset of COVID-19. In an awesome Eat, Pray, Love approach to the natural world, she sets out on the adventure of a lifetime, dodging grizzly bears and hiking in some of the world’s remotest places. There’s no one I’d rather go on this journey with.” —Mary Turner, deputy editor, Outside magazine

“Emily Pennington knows America’s park system better than most people know their own backyards—it is a privilege to get an intimate glimpse of how that relationship has shaped her.” —Megan Spurrell, senior editor at Condé Nast Traveler

“On paper, a plan to visit all sixty-two US national parks in one year sounds like a fun trip—what makes Feral an adventure story worth reading, though, is everything that wasn’t in the plan.” —Brendan Leonard, author of The Camping Life and Sixty Meters to Anywhere

“A timely travel memoir that melds together stories of our national park system and the author’s life. This is a book about themes that touch us all: exploration, discovery, and home. Packed with vivid details and brutal honesty, to read Feral is to know Emily.” —Abigail Wise, digital managing director, Outside magazine