The Gutsy Girl
A guide for a life full of epic adventures.
If ever there was a book I wished was around when I was little, it’s The Gutsy Girl. But I’m just as glad to have it in the world now. While I would have read it to pieces as a kid, The Gutsy Girl also gave grown-up me a powerful reminder: bravery and resilience are skills. Anyone can develop them.
The Gutsy Girl comprises author Caroline Paul’s stories of her own (mis)adventures, accompanied by short bios and quotes from other inspiring ladies, and helpful how-tos (make a compass outside, find the North Star, recognize animal tracks, etc.). All together, the book is everything it promises to be: escapades for your life of epic adventures.
Throughout The Gutsy Girl, Paul models adventure through her own life, from racing a boat she made of milk cartons down a river as a young girl, to white-water rafting and working as a firefighter as an adult. And she shares what she’s learned along the way. While the lessons — about planning, communication, teamwork, knowing your limits and when to push them, and when not to — are valuable, I think the bigger idea is that all of her failures and triumphs are part of a learning process. With each new experience, Paul tests, hones, and ultimately grows her own bravery and resilience.
This idea is also sweetly captured by the book’s illustrator Wendy MacNaughton in a drawing titled “The Gutsy-O-Meter.” Readers are asked to rate themselves on a meter that swings from low guts (watching TV and sleeping) to high guts (sleeping to scaling ice cliffs.) If you’re at six (sleeping outside), the book encourages you to try seven (navigating through woods by compass). If you’re already a 10 — watch out world!