cover image Find a Way: One Wild and Precious Life

Find a Way: One Wild and Precious Life

Diana Nyad. Knopf, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-385-35361-8

At 64, celebrated long-distance swimmer Nyad accomplished a feat that had eluded her at 28—making the first solo swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage. While Cuba to the Keys is 94 miles for the proverbial crow, Nyad lacked wings and ultimately covered 110 miles through the powerful Gulf current, navigating hazards that included toxic jellyfish and peckish sharks, as well as severe nausea and dehydration. As Nyad narrates the financial and physical demands of her odyssey, which she undertook after a three-decade break from swimming, she also reviews her career as a television journalist and talk show host. Nyad sees her competitive drive as fueled by enduring anger over her sexual abuse as a child, and the ocean ultimately provides her with a means of transcendence. The strength of Nyad’s memoir is her recounting of the journey: gym training and the rhythms of swimming, songs that help her time strokes, analysis of weather and water, sketches of her team members, and the delicate shuffle between two countries still fighting the Cold War. Nyad has a vibrant, informal voice and her anecdotes are intrinsically interesting. However, she rushes through events unrelated to her quest, while issues like her history of abuse and failed romances feel underexplored given her statements on how much they’ve influenced her life and work. (Oct.)