Book: Let Them Paddle

In a world obsessed with safety and security, Bozeman author Alan Kesselheim is an anachronism—the man takes his pregnant wife and young children on month-long canoe trips hundreds of miles from civilization. Any number of things could go wrong, and disaster is never more than a paddlestroke away. But Kesselheim is concerned with a different kind of security: that which comes from immersing oneself in wildness, connecting deeply with nature, and thereby developing the fundamental self-awareness and autonomy that are the mark of strong character. Let Them Paddle: Coming of Age on the Water (Fulcrum Publishing, $20) tells the story of his and his wife Marypat’s unconventional parenting style, and how they decide to mark each child’s entrance to adulthood by revisiting their “birth rivers”—trips taken when they were in the womb. It’s an ambitious plan and an inspiring book, and this is Kesselheim at his most thoughtful, graceful, and meticulous. As one reviewer wrote, “I want to meet the Kesselheims. I want to paddle with them. Heck, I want them to adopt me.”