When Maggie Downs discovered that her mother was dying of Alzheimer’s (a disease she’s all-too aware is passed down through the mother’s side), Maggie makes a fearless decision to live. She quits her fulfilling job and leaves her brand-new husband behind as she embarks on a year-long solo journey around the world to fulfill the bucket list her mother left unfinished.
Part memoir, part travelogue, Braver Than You Think is a both an emotional examination of what it means to lose a parent slowly and then all at once, and a thrilling journey around the world alongside Downs as she hikes the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, whitewater rafts down the Nile, treks with endangered mountain gorillas in Rwanda, has quiet moments of reckoning in Cambodia’s ancient temples, and more, all on a shoe-string budget
Downs is immensely and immediately endearing, her prose light and shot through with humor. One of the first passages of the book takes you along for her first heart-pounding skydiving experience - the kind of experience she evokes many times over during her year of travel
Perfect for fans of adventure memoirs like Wild and Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube, Braver Than You Think explores grief and loss with tenderness, clarity, and humor, and offers a truly incredible roadmap to coping with the unimaginable.
Alzheimer’s disease is currently ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in the US, and Downs’s experience provides the catharsis of recognition for those coping with the disease in their own lives.
Downs is based in Palm Springs, CA and has strong ties in Ohio
Acquired by Counterpoint editor in chief, Dan Smetanka
Bookseller Praise for Braver Than You Think
"You can tell when a writer compels words to life because there's no way to make sense of the unspoken otherwise. In this case, Downs finds a way around what's happening inside her head—a choice to travel the world while her mom lives with and dies of Alzheimer's. Her decision is not born out of privilege or indifference but need. If you know someone living with dementia, you know this story. It's yours, actually. And because Downs is a journalist, she knows how to write it. Expect to be haunted and humbled. If grief isn't your thing (no one loves it; everyone lives it), then think of this as an adventure, a fantastic travel memoir. Think of it as a different kind of guide. Think of it as therapy. It's your choice; that's the beauty of this book. You might walk away thinking about monkeys in Bolivia. Or pieces of paper Downs buries under rocks in Egypt. You might instantly recall the smell of a nursing home. Regardless, there's no way around it. You can't go over it, you can't get under it, you can't go around it—you have to go through it. One of the best books I'll read this year." —Genene Murphy, Anderson's Bookshop (Chicago IL)
"This is a memoir for people who don't like memoirs. This is a memoir you need when inspirational journeys seem a little too movie-perfect. This is a memoir you will need to reread. In these pages, see what it means to grieve, to explore, and to venture into a world that seems foreign, yet becomes so intimate it is difficult to forget. Life as Maggie Downs portrays it is dirty, a little ragged around the edges, and—in the end—overwhelmingly beautiful." —Hilary Kotecki, Doylestown & Lahaska Bookshops (Doylestown, PA)