Normally I'm somewhat wary of "I tried __ for a year" memoirs, but this one is delightful, inspiring and offers some history lessons. When Noelle Hancock learns that her entertainment blogging job has ended, she's at a loss as to what to do. In therapy, she's trying to overcome her fears, and she decides to look to Eleanor Roosevelt for advice, latching on to the First Lady's prompt to do one thing each that scares you. Hancock doesn't detail 365 feats, but the ones she does are at turns dramatic (shark diving, trapeze work, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro), unnerving (working at a mortuary to conquer her fear of death), amusing (doing standup comedy is the thing she fears most) and more everyday (weaning herself off sleeping pills). Along the way she writes about her fears about whether her boyfriend's reporter job will always outshadow her and the future of their relationship.
What I appreciated most is that Hancock is not trying to tell everyone to apply Eleanor's advice, and she grapples constantly with being "ready" to face her fears, taking her last sleeping pill when she is forced to by the mountain climb. She isn't overly self-deprecating, but does bare her fears in a way that makes it almost impossible not to like her as a narrator--or look inward at one's own fears. She also shines a bit of light on some of the major accomplishments of Eleanor Roosevelt, and while the two are from very different times, the effect Eleanor has on the author is clear in her references and devotion to living according to her spirit. This memoir never feels predetermined, and Hancock's insights into her accomplishments are as worthy of attention as her feats themselves, especially relating to Kiliminjaro. She shows an empathy and compassion that extends to her friends and those she meets (including the dead) as well as to herself.