Shooting The Boh

Shooting The Boh

I would have never picked it up ordinarily, I read fiction not true life adventure books, but the author happens to be my high school English teacher.  A teacher I recently reconnected with through Facebook.  She casually mentioned she had written a book. I ordered it through Amazon and was simply mesmerized.

Who was this person  who gave up teaching after two years for a more exciting lifestyle as a Travel Journalist??  One who could casually accept a trip with a small group of rafters down an unexplored river in Borneo. By herself!  Only one other person in the party was alone.    

I had a hard time reconciling this adventuress with the beautiful Mrs. Johnston, fresh out of college and teaching high school seniors.  I remember her at the blackboard in a yellow print dress and bright red high heels.  An eye opener in the days of sedate skirts and blouses and plain shoes teachers usually wore.   She was the intellectual hippie from UC Berkeley who taught lessons that I remember forty five years later. 

 Even with that glimmer, it was a wild ride to discover the real Tracy Johnston! 

It wasn't until page 154 that I caught a glimmer of the teacher I'd known.  When she talked about words as vessels.  I was immediately, and eerily transported away from the rain forest in Borneo back to the classroom in 1968.  Yes!  The teacher that unlocked the reason I loved books, the art of the English language.  Reveling in the way it draws pictures in my mind.  That paragraph...did she teach it that year?

When I read Amy Tan's review of the book (quoted here):
"I loved this book.  Johnston is a dream of a writer - funny, intelligent and hilariously observant."

It set the tone for me.
I knew then that I would love this book.  And I did.

I was consumed by the story.  I lived it while reading it.  I thought about it as I moved about my day and it even invaded my dreams at night.  What a horrific trip this turned into.  a trip the author was totally unprepared for.  Her sense of humor kept the story light enough to be enjoyed and her odd mixing it with her own fears of aging made it real and not just a slick adventure story that you easily forget.

I identified with her supreme confidence that all would end well and lets take this ride for all it's worth. I lived my life that way.  It wasn't a life that found me river rafting in uncharted territory in a foreign country like Borneo, but a somewhat unconventional life of raising children, moving from state to state, carving out a new life every few years in a strange place knowing no one.  I never felt fear and so I identified with Tracy Johnston, who took each day as it came on that trip and was confident of an eventual good outcome.  No one bypasses evil on a river trip in the rain forest of Borneo that has gone awry,. but it never defeated her, even when the outcome looked very grim.  It was amazing they survived.

When it was first published it won the New York Library's Best 25 Books of the Year award.  The fact that this book is still in print twenty years later justifies the award.

Shooting The Bah
I gave it 5 stars.  Something I rarely do.


Paulette said…
I just finished the book I was reading and was looking for something else to read. I will see if my library has this book, it sounds wonderful, and with your recommendation I'm sure it's a winner.
Rebecca said…
I sense that you're not just "saying that" 'cause she was your high school English teacher. I will look for it and give it a try. Thanks for the heads up!
Jeannie Marie said…
Absolutely, Rebecca! I added the information about the award it received and the fact that it was still in print over 20 years later. Curiously, it reads like it happened last week.
Wow, what an interesting story about your teacher. A good book is ageless!
I have never heard of it, but I'm adding it to my list:)

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