Book Review: ’21 Miles’ by Jessica Hepburn

21 Miles: About the Book

Jessica Hepburn’s ’21 Miles’ is an honest, emotive, and moving account of a woman who realises she will never become a mother. After 11 grueling rounds of IVF, Jessica decides to do something BIG. That ‘something’ is to swim the English Channel. Even more astonishing, is that she has had no previous swimming experience, or even likes to swim!

 Book Cover image of 21 Miles by Jessica Hepburn
21 Miles by Jessica Hepburn

A Search for Happiness

Whilst training to complete the biggest challenge of her life, Jessica embarks on an inquisitive journey to find out if being a mother is something that truly makes you happy. In the process, she meets with 20 inspirational women for lunch, some of whom are mothers and some that aren’t to ask them whether motherhood makes you ‘Happy’.

This eclectic mix of women from varied backgrounds and cultures brings a depth to the story that just resonates with women in general. Their contrasting perspectives on motherhood combine to make Jessica’s journey more touching. Furthermore, they carefully challenge societal views about women and motherhood being inextricably connected. ‘Molly’ is by far the most beautifully written chapter. She invokes a sadness that pulls at your heartstrings immeasurably. The empathy felt at this point in the book required plenty of tissues to wipe away the tears. Actually, I had to read this chapter in several bits!

The most poignant aspect of 21 Miles is the transparency through which Jessica writes it. She doesn’t hold back on any element of her infertility battle.  She lays bare her soul in both self-deprecating humour and nobility to take you along her journey. Along with her frank account of the training that she endured to make the crossing, her vulnerability makes the book very real.

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Final Thoughts

I read 21 Miles within 3 days and haven’t stopped recommending it to others since. In fact, I was so inspired by the book I emailed Jessica to tell her what an impact her words had made on me and how much I loved reading it.

Even if you have not experienced infertility there is a message in there for everyone about determination and grit that the human soul just pulls out of nowhere when life is simply too hard to deal with.

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