Book review: ‘1000-Mile Walk on the Beach’

Published 5:09 pm Thursday, November 10, 2011

“A 1000-Mile Walk on the Beach”

Author: Loreen Niewenhuis
Crickhollow Books, an imprint of Great Lakes Literary, LLC  2011.  197 pg.

This unforgettable memoir by Loreen Niewenhuis is by no means, a simple walk on the beach. This is a fantastic read for adventure enthusiasts.
But how does a decision like this begin? It cannot be a whimsical one. Readers will vicariously experience Niewenhuis’ tireless, seven-month quest.
Niewenhuis grew up in Michigan, along the pale, blue shores of Lake Michigan. Her earliest memory of Lake Michigan was running up and down the towering sand dunes of Warren State Park with her siblings.
Then she spotted it — Lake Michigan. The following quote sums up Loreen’s desire to make the lake a significant part of her life.
“The Lake. Blue water, on and on. There was no way to see the other side. It stretched left and right and forward till it met the sky. The breeze off the lake blew up the dune, warming and lifting from the hot sand. Lifting. There was so much rising air that hang gliders would launch off the top and glide high over the foot of the dune all the way to the water’s edge, banking and stalling and turning.”
When Niewenhuis turns 45, she wants to take on a life challenge.
She chooses to walk around the 1,000-mile perimeter of Lake Michigan. But before Niewenhuis can take on this challenge, she must physically and emotionally train by intensely working out.
Once she is ready to start, Niewenhuis begins her trek in Chicago for the first of 10 segments.
Here, Loreen constructs humorous, yet important safety rules for survival:
“Don’t walk through areas that look like a good place to dump a body.
Don’t take photos where people might get angry.
Don’t take photos near a place that looks like a meth house.
Start early in the morning, and end before dusk.”
While imagining this trek, you may visualize charming-looking beach towns, which is sometimes the case.
But what impresses most about Niewenhuis is her down-to-earth desire to frequent rougher realities of towns.
Even though she may look out of place, she graciously fits in.
While she does this, she explains aspects of these towns for readers. She vividly describes how many of these waterways have been sadly, chemically abused. In addition, road kill will never look the same. Niewenhuis describes these lost lives with amazing grace and respect.
Niewenhuis combines her walking treks with occasional but necessary forms of transportation, and medical care.
She includes the sprinkling of family and friends to alleviate her solitude.
Finally, in her epilogue she instructs readers to pursue their life passions. There is no doubt they will.

Author Bio
Loreen Niewenhuis grew up in Michigan, where she has lived most of her life. She pursued a life of science with her two degrees. While raising her two sons, she began writing fiction.  This passion sent Loreen to Spalding University to get her master of fine arts degree. Her previous writings have been published in literary journals. Her short story collection, “Scar Tissue,” was a finalist for the 2009 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. In her recent memoir, Niewenhuis conquers a life passion that many readers can only dream of.