For prompt #48 on the 2018 Reading Challenge (a microhistory), I chose to read Breaking Into the Current: Boatwomen of the Grand Canyon, by Louise Teal. My sister lent me this book awhile back when I started looking for interesting stories of real life women. I am writing a series of middle grade adventure stories featuring girls, and I was looking for inspiration. This book has that in spades!
To all the women navigating the changing currents of our time.
Teal’s writing style is beautiful. She writes with great description and a clear love for her subject. And she manages to instill a good deal of suspense into this little nonfiction book. I can almost feel like I’m on the river with these women.
In this book, Teal profiles eleven women (herself included) who worked on the river from the mid-1970s through the early 1990s when this book was written. Many of the stories she shares are quite exciting. I connected more with some of the women than with others, but all of them are certainly fascinating.
She also includes a few chapters about what it meant to be a woman river guide breaking into an arena that up until that time (early to mid-1970s) had been strictly a man’s domain, as well as specific elements of the guiding experience, like the boats they piloted and the high water event of 1983. Her concluding chapter, “Breaking Into the Current”, talks specifically about some of the obstacles these women faced – sexism, isolation and criticism.
Teal is a master storyteller. I enjoyed reading about these women so much, I didn’t want the adventure to end. This book is a real treasure, and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in the outdoors, running rivers and hiking, the Grand Canyon, or seeing women succeed in a male dominated activity.