About the Book

Broke Hungry and Happy: The Life of Extreme Kayaker Dave Norell

Two Stories Woven into one Book

“Dangerous” Dave’s  example of living life to the fullest continues to inspire even after his death in a triathlon at age 24.

From the perspective of a mother who has walked the  journey  from grief to healing, the book celebrates David’s life, following his  adventures from Idaho to British Columbia, Costa Rica, the Philippines, and throughout the U.S.

With the help of David’s  journals, other writings, and hours of raw film footage, the author shares the extraordinary life, mission and style of this adventurer.

Young Dave abandons his college engineering studies to follow his passion, extreme kayaking.

Part 1 of the book is written in Dave’s voice, as if he is telling the stories of his excursions into wilderness rivers around the globe, rag-tag temporary jobs he used to fund the journeys and his commitment  to living life on his own terms.

  • The author’s voice takes over to detail her shock when she receives the phone call telling her about her son’s death.
  • Literally picking herself up off the floor, Rae Ann begins a journey no parent wants to take. 
  • She shares with open, vulnerable language her story of losing a child.

Rae Ann reveals how she eventually was able to turn adversity into strength, and learn to live again.

From adventure, to heart break, to healing, this book inspires.

David’s message shines through – You only live once, follow your dreams and passion – Live life to the max!


“Dave packed more into his 24 years than most of us will in our lifetime. We are proud to honor his name
and example.  Broke Hungry & Happy was one of the most enjoyable and meaningful reads for me
in the past few years.” Jim Everett, CEO Treasure Valley YMCA
“This book is a marvelous story about a boy who becomes a man, and a man who lives life with passion.
The journey through David’s life and the grieving that a parent endures over the loss of  a child
bring both inspiration and tears.” Nikki Kelly, New Zealand, extreme kayaker and mother of two.

Also available at:


Press About The Book

Writer’s Block Interview on Radio Boise


Boise Weekly interview