Steph Davis seemed to have a perfect life. She was a respected climber, with major sponsors and a husband she loved and who was also her climbing partner. But then, through no fault of her own it all fell apart.
Learning to Fly: An Uncommon Memoir of Human Flight, Unexpected Love, and One Amazing Dog is Davis’ chronicle of how her own love of taking risks, the love and help of many friends, and the devotion and inspiration of her dog Fletch led her to overcome fear and despair and reach new heights both literally and metaphorically.
Liberally illustrated with amazing black and white and color photos, this book captures the experience of extreme sports like climbing, skydiving, base jumping from cliffs, and jumping with a wingsuit for those who may do these things or want to do them and those of us who only want to experience them vicariously.
Davis keeps her descriptions of things unrelated to these sports to a minimum. Her lifestyle is comletely centered on climbing, flying, and jumping and she is constantly on the move. She lives with few possessions or attachments, often sleeping in her car or in caves with only her closest companion, her scrappy and adventurous dog, for company.
Despite some dramatic close calls and the excitement of the physical activities, the most emotional and touching portion of the book is more than halfway through as Fletcher the dog begins to develop arthritis and to need more help getting around. Her courage and determination to continue to enjoy each day despite increasing pain and limitation inspires Steph to appreciate every moment of her own life and to persevere despite any obstacle.
Learning to Fly is a fascinating read about a woman who is not only a great athlete but who, in the course of the book, becomes a strong and mature person capable of sharing love in a real and meaningful way. It will be of interest to athletes and those who only want to get some idea of what that life is like without actually living it. Most people will find it a fast and satisfying read.