* as published in Good Gabble Newzine Issue 12 January 2011
'The Aussie Girl Who Took On The World'
A book of inspiration, dreams, and a journey of true courage, True Spirit by Jessica Watson takes you on the journey of a young girl who refused to let any obstacles get in her way.
There wouldn't be many in Australia, or worldwide, who have not heard of Jessica Watson, the young 16 year old, who took her yacht Ella's Pink Lady and become the youngest person to sail solo, unassisted and non-stop around the world.
True Spirit is Jessica's story as told in her blogs, with added notes and information, expanding her thoughts, feelings and attitudes towards what was happening. It also allows for behind the scene's insight into what was happening onshore that Jessica did not know of during her offshore travel.
Jessica really is an amazing teenager. Her ability to stay positive during the whole event, from the organisation, to the trip and media attention, is one of courage, strength and ability way beyond that of a 16 year old. This trip was Jessica's dream and, with the support of her parents, Jessica was going to make it happen, and that she did
For Jessica it was hands on all the way. When a boat was donated Jessica was there, from the stripping down to the rebuild, there was nothing this young girl would not have a go at. She involved herself in the planning of all equipment, food and the trip. Jessica's journey was more than that of sailing it was one of learning and finding one's owns strengths, weaknesses and true self.
Jessica's courage throughout her journey is one to be admired. With positivity being the norm for each a day of sailing, should Jessica feel down and negative she was quick to use techniques she had learnt over time to improve her mood. Spending 210 days of solidarity at sea, coping with all sorts of conditions that nature decided to send her and that Ella's Pink Lady decided to dish out, Jessica showed courage, maturity and the patience of a saint. Not once did she ever loose sight of her goal. Her passion for sailing, respect of the ocean and love of life shone through in every page of this book.
On page 172, in her blog dated Saturday, 5 December 2009, Jessica speaks of her “particularly good mood and seeing everything through happy glasses” In commenting on her own blog Jessica writes:
“ It was funny how some of my comments like this one about the happy glasses were picked up and quoted by lots of people reading the blog. It was amazing to me that other people were reading what I wrote and even more amazing that they were applying my positive thought strategies to their own lives. As silly as they sound, I really do believe in 'happy glasses'. One thing I learnt at sea was that there are very, very few situations that can't be turned around and made more positive and less threatening by just looking at things in a different way. Sure, I had my mopey, wallowing moments when I was scared or sad,but eventually I would realise it was up to me to change how I was feeling
( no one else was there to do it for me ) and I would manage to shift my headspace to a better place”
The title, True Spirit, fits this book nicely. This is a book of true aussie spirit. From business's to like minded individuals and the community at large, all were behind Jessica giving her the much needed support and praise she deserved. Some chose to doubt and make their message heard but Jessica did not allow the negativity of others get in the way of her dreams. When her first attempt failed, as she collided with a 63,000-tonne bulk carrier,, Jessica took it in her stride, learning from the experience and ignoring the negativity broadcast throughout the media. Should she have listened, allowed her dream to be squashed and canceled her plans she would not have achieved, grown and become the person she is today. There is a message within True Spirit that should be heard by all.
Being one who knows nothing of sailing or nautical terms I found this book easy to follow with clear explanation. I soon found myself engrossed in a new world of sails and the sea, wondering if I to could handle what Jessica did. If anything, True Spirit, left me with a respect for those who sail and for our vast ocean. I now dream that one day, at the end of my land travels, I too may jump on a boat, of the holiday variety not the yacht variety, and visit those exotic islands of far away.
As the gap between technology and the hard copy book only lessens, True Spirit shows the link between the two at it's best. With the book being built around blogs that Jessica placed on her internet site during her journey there is plenty of opportunity for the reader to source further blogs. Owners of smartphones can scan six tags within the pages to reveal Jessica's video diary entries, with url's provided for those who do not have this facility. Although, as a book, True Spirit stands alone I found that accessing the internet enhanced the journey and my understanding, both emotionally and mentally, of Jessica's trip.
Cleverly laid out, True Spirit is in three parts, The Starting Point, The Voyage and Home. Part two, The Voyage, is set into the six stages of Jessica's trip. A guide to Ella's Pink Lady, an internal guide, equipment list, glossary and recommended reading finish the book of nicely and compliment the reading experience. Photograph's, both professional and personal, are include in three different locations within the book, adding colour and visualisation to the journey.
I highly recommend Jessica Watson's True Spirit. This is one of the best reads I have had in a long time. A feel good book of inspiration, love, hopes and dreams. I found myself smiling throughout my journey and was left floating on cloud nine each time I put it down.
True Spirit is a journey with a young girl who has achieved what most will never. By reading True Spirit I too sailed the world of dreams. What I dream seems small to the dreams and inspirations of Jessica Watson. If Jessica can achieve, I can to!
Published by Hachette Australia
review: Jennifer Deaves