Dial’s memoir of this quest – but also of a remarkable family, one that eschewed the 'safe and boring' for something different; something intense, sparkling, and wild ... It’s no surprise that Dial ends up doubling down on his chosen life of wilderness and nature. But the quandary he expresses, of whether to urge one’s children to experience the world, with all its beauty and danger, or to keep them safe, is familiar, even to those parents sitting at the sports complex rather than in a tropical treehouse ... [Dial] manages to avoid despair, or even negativity, while faced with the most heartrending of subjects ... energized by spectacular descriptions of nature and by the narrative action of a father’s fight to find a beloved son. But it is its universality, this question of how to live and why, of how to understand nature, that gives it resonance and beauty.
It’s the resulting search — for a body, for answers, for absolution — that forms the heart of the book. But its soul lies in the love that Dial has for his family and adventure both — the love that drove him to combine them ... Altogether the book is a complicated ethical read, and thus gripping and unnerving at once. Perhaps its truest title would be The Adventurer’s Father. This is what it means to raise a child, to introduce that child to the world, and to bet his life — and his joy — on the odds.
Rarely does a parent share with such candid emotion their experience of losing a child as Dial does in his memoir, which begins with the author’s early life and passion for the outdoors, then explores how he shared that passion with his children ... Dial leaves no emotion unaddressed, sharing his grief, panic, guilt, fear, hope, confusion, and frustration throughout his long search for answers. While heartbreaking to read, Dial’s story is also a powerful testament to the bond between parent and child and the need to do the things we love, even when fear seeks to stop us ... Dial’s memoir is a beautiful book that will speak most ardently to parents, but also to adventurers, travelers, scientists, and all those who find joy in exploring the world.
... gripping, honest, raw ... Dial’s writing is clear, straightforward, stolid, the sort of judicious, even tone one often finds in adventure memoirs ... Despite the dark revelations at the end of the book, its early sections are a celebration of outdoor life ... a beautiful and tender book.
... wrenching ... moving and painful. Readers will wonder how they could possibly bear the same tragedy in their lives, and the inevitable guilt ... Mr. Dial doesn’t shrink from asking himself whether he recklessly promoted a 'sky’s the limit' lifestyle, but his answer seems simplistic ... The Dials didn’t take the boring route as parents, and The Adventurer’s Son is a brave narrative about how they must now live with that choice.
Fusing personal history with elegy and adventure, this arresting narrative of every parent's worst fear begins with the author’s background and then recounts the Dial family’s many exciting excursions ... [Dial's] descriptions of Costa Rica's jungles echo with mystery, and, despite his grief, Dial’s writing remains measured and cleareyed. When he recounts how a TV crew took a sensational angle for the sake of drama, the author’s dismay is palpable...In its emotional restraint and careful descriptions of the wild, this is a slow-burning tribute ... A poignant, highly moving memoir of tragic circumstances and a lifelong love of exploring.
... gripping ... Dial conveys both his guilt at setting his son on that fateful path and the allure of that path ... Dial paints a riveting, richly conflicted portrait of family legacies and the call of the wild.