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Climbing with Mollie  By  cover art

Climbing with Mollie

By: William Finnegan
Narrated by: William Finnegan
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Publisher's Summary

2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning memoirist of Barbarian Days William Finnegan had devoted his days to chasing waves as a lifelong surfer. When his adolescent daughter, Mollie, proves to be a natural-born climber, Finnegan follows his newfound passion toward rock climbing. It’s an arduous apprenticeship, and it turns the parent-child dynamic on its head, as Mollie slips into the role of coach and mentor, while her father has to push his limits to keep pace.

Finnegan takes listeners deep into the world of climbing–indoors and out, from climbing gyms to rock faces in Central Park, Mexico and Canada. Mollie, a wry and gentle soul who had shown no previous interest in sports, grows into a ferociously gifted climber, and she leads the way. What begins as a hobby for the father-daughter duo becomes an obsession, as they start taking every opportunity to slip on their climbing shoes, chalk up their hands, and attack problems, climber-speak for routes. They learn a new language of specialized moves and rock types, they seek tougher climbs and forge new memories–not just muscle memories. Through it all, they add a new dimension to their relationship. 

As he and Mollie start climbing outdoors, tackling harder and higher climbs, the endeavor increasingly takes on another aspect: danger, which climbers call exposure. Finnegan offers a candid and gripping look at risk, fear, and humility in the pursuit of a perilous hobby. While he navigates the boundaries of trust and adventure, as well as the far edge of his physical limits, he reminds listeners that to fall is to be human.

This Audible Original includes an additional interview Finnegan did with his daughter, Mollie, for the story. 

©2019 William Finnegan (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC.

Our favorite moments from Climbing with Mollie

Mollie surprises her parents with her climbing ability.
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"I felt like I had her with me..."
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"…but that seemed less important than pursuing this new obsession together."
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  • Climbing with Mollie
  • Mollie surprises her parents with her climbing ability.
  • Climbing with Mollie
  • "I felt like I had her with me..."
  • Climbing with Mollie
  • "…but that seemed less important than pursuing this new obsession together."

Publisher's Summary

2016 Pulitzer Prize-winning memoirist of Barbarian Days William Finnegan had devoted his days to chasing waves as a lifelong surfer. When his adolescent daughter, Mollie, proves to be a natural-born climber, Finnegan follows his newfound passion toward rock climbing. It’s an arduous apprenticeship, and it turns the parent-child dynamic on its head, as Mollie slips into the role of coach and mentor, while her father has to push his limits to keep pace.

Finnegan takes listeners deep into the world of climbing–indoors and out, from climbing gyms to rock faces in Central Park, Mexico and Canada. Mollie, a wry and gentle soul who had shown no previous interest in sports, grows into a ferociously gifted climber, and she leads the way. What begins as a hobby for the father-daughter duo becomes an obsession, as they start taking every opportunity to slip on their climbing shoes, chalk up their hands, and attack problems, climber-speak for routes. They learn a new language of specialized moves and rock types, they seek tougher climbs and forge new memories–not just muscle memories. Through it all, they add a new dimension to their relationship. 

As he and Mollie start climbing outdoors, tackling harder and higher climbs, the endeavor increasingly takes on another aspect: danger, which climbers call exposure. Finnegan offers a candid and gripping look at risk, fear, and humility in the pursuit of a perilous hobby. While he navigates the boundaries of trust and adventure, as well as the far edge of his physical limits, he reminds listeners that to fall is to be human.

This Audible Original includes an additional interview Finnegan did with his daughter, Mollie, for the story. 

©2019 William Finnegan (P)2019 Audible Originals, LLC.
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About the Creator and Performer

William Finnegan has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1987. He has reported from South Africa, Mozambique, Somalia, Sudan, Mexico, Central America, South America, Spain, Britain, Australia, Madagascar, Ukraine, Moldova, the Gulf States, and the Balkans, as well as from many places in the United States. He has written primarily about politics, war, poverty, race, US foreign policy, organized crime, globalization, and surfing. He is the author of five books: Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life (2015); Cold New World: Growing Up in a Harder Country; A Complicated War: The Harrowing of Mozambique; Dateline Soweto: Travels with Black South African Reporters; and Crossing the Line: A Year in the Land of Apartheid. His work has won many awards, including two Overseas Press Club awards and the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Autobiography for Barbarian Days. Barbarian Days, which has been a New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback, has been translated into 10 languages. Finnegan’s work has also appeared in Granta, Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, and other magazines. Finnegan takes his talents to audio narrating Barbarian Days and Climbing with Mollie, both available on Audible. He lives in New York City with his wife and daughter.

What listeners say about Climbing with Mollie

Average Customer Ratings
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    4 out of 5 stars

I would Like a New Dad, Please and Thank You

I receive this as a free Audible original and dove right in, since I find climbing interesting. This is an interesting perspective on climbing, for someone who doesn’t climb.

However, what really grabbed me with this story is that I would do about anything to have had a father that loved me in the way Finnegan loves Mollie. She is one lucky girl. You can hear it in every sentence, how much he is in awe of and respects his own daughter. He has zero problem admitting that she is strong and smart in ways that maybe he isn't. There’s just something really beautiful about that, and so I’m happy I read this one.

The only thing I really wanted from this one was more.

53 people found this helpful

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Great listen!

Loved hearing about how he created a connection with his daughter through climbing. It's a great example of the joy in letting a child discover her passion and supporting her in it.

19 people found this helpful

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Why is this a book?

Spoiler alert! He wanted his daughter to be in a sport and she hated everything he put her in. She learned to climb in summer camp and got good and he's just so darned proud of her. The end.

15 people found this helpful

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Great for parents

I liked this short story of a father's relationship to his daughter and vice versa.

This is a great mustread for any parents!
Thanks for sharing!

13 people found this helpful

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Making Memories With Daddy

I knew I'd like this when I saw the Title. Interesting thing, my husband actively listened and really liked it as well. When I asked what he thought was best about the book, he said, "its amazing to see a 62yr man go out of his way to make his daughter happy!" Both of us lost our parents earlier this year. So this made the story extra special. I try to consciously make "memories" with our children and grandchildren. Something outside of holidays, when its expected. So, we dance and sing together, exercise (Zumba, swimming) together. Its wonderful to go to the gym with my daughter and her adult son and daughter, or voice class at local college, to move and sing together, and see the amazement on people's faces when they realize the relationship. To keep going as a parent/grandparent for our grandgifts, just to see them smile. Great story!

12 people found this helpful

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I'm not even a climber, but I enjoyed it a lot

I particularly like books narrated by the author, and this is one of those. This is subtly about a relationship between father and daughter, also educational about climbing. I thought it might be boring, but it was free and outdoors, so decided to try it. I was fully interested all the way through this short book. I found myself imagining myself climbing with them or watching...I could imagine myself there and feel the pain or the fear or the triumph with them. I found it uplifting overall.

12 people found this helpful

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Fabulous father/daughter description of climbing

A wonderful description of a father’s and daughter’s bond built around climbing, along with a fascinating description of the sport of climbing.

12 people found this helpful

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Nostalgic

I enjoyed hearing a dad's view of his daughter growing up and becoming her own person while being a part of that

11 people found this helpful

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no plot

I was waiting for the plot the twist the excitement of the book Kama and it never came. I'm not sure what the purpose of the book is. It's a nice little story of a father and daughter being together but I was hoping that something dramatic would happen.

9 people found this helpful

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She doesn't die

The way this is written it seems like the whole story is leading up to a serious injury or death. I almost turned it off a few times but ended up sticking it out until the end. I can't say I recommend listening to this book.

9 people found this helpful

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  • halsk
  • 04-02-22

Loved this!!

I'm an experienced climber and loved the personal take on the climbing world and the passion that it creates.
Lingo explained in a humorous and unpatronising way.
It is reassuring to hear how this sport can be enjoyed when youth is behind you too.

1 person found this helpful

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  • damian baker
  • 06-25-22

Short but sweet

I really enjoyed and empathised with this story. The sheer pride in his daughter's achievements and joy of just being able to share something with her really touched a nerve with me. Well written and obviously read from the heart, I listened to it in one go.

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  • DANIEL T.
  • 04-27-22

real nice story

As a father to a daughter, i found it be a real nice listern, thanks very much. I hope I can have similar experiences with my daughter.