Author Hanneke Boot opens her personal journal to readers in Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, describing events and issues that arise in her life as an artist with a degenerative muscle disease.
Boot’s Preface describes how her diagnosis of the unspecified disease led her to begin painting by holding the brush in her mouth. The ensuing diary entries detail surgeries, rehabilitation, her feelings about being dependent on others, and the stuff of daily life, such as giving presentations about her artwork, going on a blind date, and so on.
In one interesting interlude, Boot writes of visiting a prison at the request of a pastor working there, and developing a bond with the inmates. The prisoners related to the restrictions imposed by her wheelchair and were protective toward her. When she later has a medical setback later and her own independence is further challenged, she is reminded of the prisoners.
Unfortunately, because this is a journal (chronicling three and a half years), readers must wade through many incidental anecdotes to find passages that resonate. The text shows little evidence of editing, and often Boot’s comments lack context, trail off, or simply confound, as in: “This week I went into the ‘pub’ to celebrate the last day of rehab with a nice cold Hoegaarden beer or two. That was calling the night nurse at night, who was already informed, because I came back quite late. ‘What is that?’ she asked. Fortunately, she took it nicely.” Such stream-of-consciousness writing makes the work extremely hard to follow.
The author’s lovely paintings are reproduced beautifully here, and photos show her in a hospital bed, swimming pool, or in her adapted van, always beaming.
Boot is easy to root for, as her determined personality shines through. But the text requires polishing in order for readers to fully understand her story and connect to her experiences in a meaningful way.
Also available as an ebook.