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Book review: 'Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery' memoir offers a year of wintry introspection

Posted February 6

"UNBOUND: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery," by Steph Jagger, Harper Wave, $26.99, 304 pages (nf) (ages 14 and up)

Steph Jagger had ticked all the boxes: a prestigious job, a nice condo and a passport full of stamps. For a self-described blue-ribbon winner, the next step was unprecedentedly ambiguous. Then, one snowy afternoon on a ski lift, Jagger received a message from the universe: "raise restraining device."

She accepted the invitation, quit her job, sold the condo and challenged herself to ski 4 million vertical feet in a year. Over the course of the year, Jagger would ski around the globe, break a world record, fall in love and redefine herself as a woman and as an individual. "Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery" is Jagger's memoir of her journey.

Jagger is an engaging writer, and no ski experience is necessary to relate to her. In fact, skiing and outdoor enthusiasts may be disappointed — Jagger's journey is much more "Eat, Pray, Love" than "Woman vs. Wild." Introspection and willpower are at the forefront of the book, not action or danger. In spite of the 4 million feet, "Unbound" abandons physical adrenaline for inner turmoil.

Other readers may find Jagger's memoir objectionable in other ways. Her contemplation of womanhood and sexuality borders on over-sharing and phrases like "vagina whisperer" come off as a little crass. Jagger's childhood rejection of her stay-at-home mother as a role model is never revisited, an ironic loose end for a book with a heroine who learns to embrace her femininity.

Whether or not readers enjoy "Unbound" largely depends on personal taste. Those who enjoy memoirs centered around personal growth and travel will find their cup of tea in this book; readers with other tastes will not be won over.

After her life-changing adventure, Jagger started an executive and life-coaching practice to encourage others in their pursuit of fearlessness and authenticity. She splits her time between British Columbia and San Diego.

"Unbound" contains strong language and sexual content, but no violence. The profanities are scattered liberally, about one per page, and the few sexual episodes are mentioned and referenced rather than described.

Rachel Chipman has a bachelor's degree in family life and human development. Her current goals are to read more, write more and learn to type while holding her infant daughter. Her email address is racheldchipman@gmail.com.

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