North of Hope by Shannon Huffman Polson

North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic JourneyNorth of Hope: A Daughter’s Arctic Journey by Shannon Huffman Polson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“The plane fell from the clouds toward the dirt airstrip in the Inupait village of Kaktovik, Alaska. I braced myself against the seat in front of me. Windows aged and opague blurred the borders of ice and land, sea and sky.” (19)

One year after her father and stepmother are killed by a grizzly bear in the remote wilderness of the Artic, Shannon Ploson retraces their unfinished river trip, looking to honor her father and stepmom and to find healing. It’s a journey that’s difficult on many levels–physically, emotionally, spiritually. It’s a journey that teaches her–and this reader–to see, to believe, and celebrate beauty.

Her writing draws you into the little known wilderness of Alaska, her own personal journey through grief, all woven together with her love of music. She explores the wavering line between worlds–“* listened to the water. In it, I heard the sounds of rocks, low sounds of gurgles and streams and tricles. And I heard voices. Somewhere under the water, even in this shallow place, voices came out of and through the water. I could not understand them, but they talked back and forth with excitment and joy. I stopped still to listen; what I was hearing was impossible.” (232).

I rarely rate books with five stars; but this book is an exception. Her writing is eloquent and honest. One that leaves you thinking once the final page is read.

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