April 9, 2018

BOOK REVIEW: "God Bless this Strip of Dirt" by Kathleen Owens Stephens


By Larry Peterson

Book Review: FiveStars *****
“God  Bless this Strip of Dirt”  a Novel by Kathleen Stephens

By Larry Peterson
I shall begin by saying, “I not only loved the book, but I also love the title of this book." The author begins by acknowledging that this 2180 mile stretch of land that swirls up and over and around and down from Georgia to Maine exists because of God’s handiwork.  This is the  Appalachian Trail. She knows she owes all this wonder to the Creator. Instantly I knew this would be an uplifting journey.

Kathleen Owens Stephens was a 54-year-old grandmother of six and mom to four who had never been hiking. Twelve days before she began her hike she wrote down her reasons for doing this. She came up with seven of them, and the final reason encapsulated the entire journey:

*To see the beautiful natural world without a filter. St. Francis said the beauty of nature is the footprint of God. I want to wake up in the middle of God’s footprint every morning and go to sleep in it every night and live surrounded by it every day.

There is only one chapter in this book, and it is titled, “The Hike.” That is followed by dates and areas along the way. She began her journey on April 1, 2013. First stop; Springer Mountain. This is where the trail begins. She said goodbye to her husband and kids and headed off following the most famous trail in the United States. Would she make it all the way to Mount Katahdin, Maine?

The author takes us along with her on virtually every step of her journey. It is like you are hiking along with her. You stop at places like Beauty Spot Gap, Hogback Ridge, Groundhog Creek and many other places of rest along the way. You get to meet her new friends, “Songbird” and “Roadkill”; Kathleen was called “Tortoise.” You rest and eat and take off your shoes and rub your burning feet. You get to feel like you are hiking with Kathleen. It is wonderful.

If you wish to spend an adventurous journey with a grandma who has decided to hike the Appalachian Trail even though she has never hiked and would like to experience some of the wonders of God’s handiwork, read this book. You will get to meet Kathleen Stephens and have a grand time hiking along with her. I refuse to tell you if she finished the entire trail—you have to read the book to find out.