Published by Down East Books on June 1, 2019
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When Geraldine "Gerry" Largay (AT trail name, Inchworm) first went missing on the Appalachian Trail in remote western Maine in 2013, the people of Maine were wrought with concern. When she was not found, the family, the wardens, and the Navy personnel who searched for her were devastated. The Maine Warden Service continued to follow leads for more than a year. They never completely gave up the search. Two years after her disappearance, her bones and scattered possessions were found by chance by two surveyors. She was on the U.S. Navy's SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) School land, about 2,100 feet from the Appalachian Trail. This book tells the story of events preceding Geraldine Largay's vanishing in July 2013, while hiking the Appalachian Trail in Maine, what caused her to go astray, and the massive search and rescue operation that followed. Her disappearance sparked the largest lost-person search in Maine history, which culminated in her being presumed dead. She was never again seen alive. The author was one of the hundreds of volunteers who searched for her. Gerry's story is one of heartbreak, most assuredly, but is also one of perseverance, determination, and faith. For her family and the searchers, especially the Maine Warden Service, it is also a story of grave sorrow. Marrying the joys and hardship of life in the outdoors, as well as exploring the search & rescue community, When You Find My Body examines dying with grace and dignity. There are lessons in the story, both large and small. Lessons that may well save lives in the future.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
When You Find My Body is the story of Geraldine (Gerry) Largay, an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker who disappeared in 2013. I was very excited to see this book is coming out, as my husband and I are avid hikers and I distinctly remember hearing about her disappearance and wondering if we would ever find out what happened to her.
First of all: this book is being marketed as a thriller and or true crime. WHAT?!? It is neither of those, least of all true crime. There was no crime committed here! None! Nothing at all! This is a complete misnomer and will undoubtedly lead to a LOT of disappointed readers. I went into this expecting something like an Ann Rule book, as I didn’t actually know what had happened to Gerry and it said true crime. I was at first very irritated, but decided that it probably isn’t the author’s fault and I really wanted to read Gerry’s story regardless. I’m glad I did, but just be forewarned. NOT A TRUE CRIME OR THRILLER.
The author gives a lot of background information on Gerry, which I was very glad to read. It made her seem more like a real person and less like a statistic. It was also rather sad, as clearly her husband, children, and grandchildren miss her deeply. Gerry touched a lot of lives not only in her “regular” life but also in her life on the Appalachian Trail, where she was known as Inchworm. I loved that she clearly had a sense of humor and could laugh at herself, as she was one of the slower hikers on the trail.
One thing that really was a drawback to this book was the amount of time the author spent on things that had very little relation to Gerry, her family, or her disastrous hike. In one case several pages are spent going over details about the Navy SERE school…totally unnecessary. There is also a lot of background on the AT itself and how it came to be, which might be considered unnecessary as well, but I think gives a really nice look into the history and motivations of people who hike the trail, both in the past and present.
Gerry’s story in the end is a real tragedy, especially when reading how – if she had possibly been better prepared – it most likely would have been avoided all together. I’m sure the author and her family hope that from the writing of this book, people will go out better equipped for whatever adventures in the outdoors they might seek.
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