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Mountain to Mountain: A Journey of Adventure…
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Mountain to Mountain: A Journey of Adventure and Activism for the Women of…

by Shannon Galpin

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The book starts out with a cool story of the author riding her bike in Afghanistan past a boys' school. It all goes downhill (pun intended) from there. The book needlessly jumps back and forth in time and place between Afghanistan and Colorado. The premise is "adventure" and "activism" yet these are the two things the author completely fails to deliver. The whole thing reads like a self-aggrandizing publicity tool, but I'm not really sure what she's trying to promote. Maybe she's just trying to make herself feel okay about her failed marriage, daughter at home in the states, and give herself an excuse to leave home. She talks a lot about her need to help girls' schools, but we only hear about ONE trip to a school and one time she brought a single computer and had trouble in customs. There was no detailed account of actually bringing computers to the schools and visiting with girls. Similarly, she meets with two female leaders - WOW! FEMALE LEADERS IN AFGHANISTAN! - and she writes how she was so engrossed in their answers to her questions, some which lasted for 20 minutes. Then, she tells us..... absolutely nothing about their responses that moved her so???? Similarly, there were only two stories of her actually riding her bike in Afghanistan --- which is the point of her travels. Several times she is on a motorbike. More often she tells of being driven in a car. And many times she tells of the food she eats. Many times she tells of her bathroom usage. Many times she tells stories of instances where she FAILED TO MEET WITH ANYBODY OR ACCOMPLISH ANYTHING. Where is the motivation here? I started skimming halfway through because I just didn't want to finish the book at all.

On page 164, after saying how much she needs to help schools for girls she writes: "My projects over the previous three years--supporting schools and literacy programs, starting computer labs and kindergartens, securing land donations and working to build a deaf school--had taught me an enormous amount about Afghanistan. But there were bigger organizations that could tackle these types of projects more effectively."

We never really heard about these projects, but now she is giving up on them. On page 172 she talks about how tired she is of her non-profit and instead of schools and education (that she talked about as her purpose for the previous 2/3 of the book) she would rather focus on projects that "transform the way people viewed women and the way Americans viewed Afghans, and the way the public viewed humanitarian work--a goal much less tangible than building a school, and much harder to rally the masses and raise money for. Creating a computer lab or trying to build a school for the deaf was not where I wanted to put my passions going forward. Supporting graffiti and street art projects, working with female activists, and creating other programs that challenged perceptions and empowered voices were."

In other words, she liked going to Afghanistan and riding around talking to people and taking photos. She was not successful coming back to the states and raising money to do so, except for that one time that male author held a book signing she profited from. Also, people want to give money for education, not for art, but she wants to do art. Fine. Art is good. Her photo project in Afghanistan was cool. But I started to feel like she just cobbled this book together so she could use it for fundraising opportunities under the guise of education, but to pursue what she really prefers - street art projects.

She also tells more details about a sexual assault than she does about any of her humanitarian efforts. I got so frustrated with this author the more I read. It's like a diary from a self-centered person who tries to blame everyone else for their circumstances and isn't being honest with her therapist. She's one of those women who talks about all her male friends and claims she has never had many female friends because she's not a "girl's girl" when in reality it's a way to distance herself from the fact that she's probably a selfish a-hole and that's why no women want to be friends with her. I kind of want to hear the viewpoints of her "colleagues" in the middle east and of her ex-husband and of her friends. I have no problem with someone wanting to spend all their time in a foreign country, evading adult responsibility. But don't do it under the guise of being a women's activist and humanitarian.

Pass on this book and watch the movies "He Named Me Malala" and "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" or read the books that inspired them. You'll get more out of it than you would from this mess. ( )
  originalslicey | Jan 28, 2019 |
OH man, I lost my entire review again.. Darn it! Summary: theme of the book is great - empowering Afghani women. Noble cause. But I don't think Shannon's stories are true - they just don't wash. For example, she talks about how horribly poor she is (was?) even reneging to buy her daughter some item that she'd promised her (I forget) because she only has $42 in the bank and $21 with her. Then she... wait... she doesn't do anything.. the story conveniently ends, boom!, not a word more about it. Evicted? Homeless? Nope, next thing you know she's flown back to Afghanistan using the money she doesn't have and is riding some expensive bike, one that has disc brakes no less ($$$$) and even mentions how she's using her "extra' helmet. Poor woman... right. I had 4 examples like that but, darn it all, I lost my entire review and I ain't retyping. Overall? Slick, enjoyable story that is probably a bunch of lies, much like that guy who wrote about living a life of drugs and then overcame at all odds, even got a great review by Oprah, but turned out to be all lies. ( )
  marshapetry | Oct 27, 2015 |
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Book description
Being inspired to act can take many forms. For some it's taking a weekend to volunteer, but for Shannon Galpin, it meant leaving her career, selling her house, launching a nonprofit and committing her life to advancing education and opportunity for women and girls. Focusing on the war-torn country of Afghanistan, Galpin and her organization, Mountain2Mountain, have touched the lives of hundreds of men, women and children. As if launching a nonprofit wasn't enough, in 2009 Galpin became the first woman to ride a mountain bike in Afghanistan. Now she's using that initial bike ride to gain awareness around the country, encouraging people to use their bikes "as a vehicle for social change and justice to support a country where women don't have the right to ride a bike."

In Mountain to Mountain, her lyric and honest memoir, Galpin describes her first forays into fundraising, her deep desire to help women and girls halfway across the world, her love for adventure and sports, and her own inspiration to be so much more than just another rape victim. During her numerous trips to Afghanistan, Shannon reaches out to politicians and journalists as well as everyday Afghans — teachers, prison inmates, mothers, daughters — to cross a cultural divide and find common ground. She narrates harrowing encounters, exhilarating bike rides, humorous episodes, and the heartbreak inherent in a country that is still recovering from decades of war and occupation.
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"Being inspired to act can take many forms. For some it's taking a weekend to volunteer, but for Shannon Galpin, it meant leaving her career, selling her house, launching a nonprofit and committing her life to advancing education and opportunity for women and girls. Focusing on the war-torn country of Afghanistan, Galpin and her organization, Mountain2Mountain, have touched the lives of hundreds of men, women and children. As if launching a nonprofit wasn't enough, in 2009 Galpin became the first woman to ride a mountain bike in Afghanistan. Now she's using that initial bike ride to gain awareness around the country, encouraging people to use their bikes "as a vehicle for social change and justice to support a country where women don't have the right to ride a bike." In her lyric and honest memoir, Galpin describes her first forays into fundraising, her deep desire to help women and girls halfway across the world, her love for adventure and sports, and her own inspiration to be so much more than just another rape victim. During her numerous trips to Afghanistan, Shannon reaches out to politicians and journalists as well as everyday Afghanis -- teachers, prison inmates, mothers, daughters -- to cross a cultural divide and find common ground. She narrates harrowing encounters, exhilarating bike rides, humorous episodes, and the heartbreak inherent in a country that is still recovering from decades of war and occupation"--… (more)

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