Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Adventurer's Son

The Adventurer's Son by Roman Dial
HarperCollins: 2/18/20
eBook review copy; 368 pages
ISBN-13: 9780062876607

The Adventurer's Son by Roman Dial is a highly recommended memoir about the author's adventures and his son.

Roman Dial (Mathematics and Biology professor at Alaska Pacific University and National Geographic Explorer) embraced real life outdoor adventures, exploration, and risk taking as a young man and went on to impart his love for exploration, and endurance to his son, Cody Roman. Dial recounts his own adventures and goes on to describe the trips on which he later took Cody, who also went by Roman. Occasionally his wife, Peggy, and daughter Jazz accompanied them, but Cody Roman became his father's ongoing partner on adventures.

Later, when Cody Roman was 27, he went on a solo trek, hiking and exploring in Central America. On July 10, 2014 he walked alone into Corcovado National Park, an untracked rainforest along Costa Rica’s remote Pacific Coast, and disappeared. Once his father and mother realized he was missing, Dial went down to Costa Rica and began the search for his son. It took two years to find out what happened and the search for closure was plagued with government bureaucrats obstructing the search, false information, and rumors.
Losing a child is one of most difficult experiences a parent can have, so losing your son and not knowing what happened to him makes a heart-breaking experience even worse. Certainly Dial blames himself for encouraging his son to embrace going on adventures and exploring dangerous areas.  Having a reality-TV show spinning a murder theory about Cody Roman while they were still searching for what happened to their son took a toll. In the end they find the closure and some sense of the truth behind what happened.
Dial's love for exploration is evident in his writing, as his love for his wife and family. The one drawback of this tribute to Cody Roman is that it begins by telling Roman's own story rather than starting with Cody Roman's solo trek and disappearance. If this were a biography, this would make perfect sense to follow a chronological timeline. As a tribute to Cody Roman, however, it would have been stronger to start with the disappearance and then back-fill with the history of adventures and exploring that made Cody Roman confident in setting off by himself. 
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of HarperCollins.

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