27 April 2013

North Of Hope: A Daughter's Artic Journey, Book review

Publisher: Zondervan (April 9, 2013)
ISBN-13: 978-0310328766


After her parents are killed in a rare grizzly attack, the author is forced into a wilderness of grief. Turning to loves she learned from her father, Polson explores the perilous terrain of grief through music, the natural world, and her faith. Her travels take her from the suburbs of Seattle to the concert hall where she sings Mozart's Requiem, and ultimately into the wilderness of Alaska's remote Arctic and of her heart.

This deeply moving narrative is shot through with the human search for meaning in the face of tragedy. Polson's deep appreciation for the untamed and remote wilderness of the Alaskan Arctic moves her story effortlessly between adventure, natural history, and sacred pilgrimage, as much an internal journey as a literal one. Readers who appreciate music or adventure narratives and the natural world or who are looking for new ways to understand loss will find guidance, solace, and a companionable voice in this extraordinary debut.

See Trailer (HERE)

My thoughts:

North of Hope can only be described as a well crafted narrative you should discover for yourself, particularly if you have ever experienced a deep loss! No amount of lyrical prose on the part of this reviewer could provide you with an inkling of the account of one daughter's journey into the Alaskan wilderness. Retracing her father's last trek across the Artic a year later is Shannon's hope to make sense of the tragic event which took his and her stepmum's lives.

Woven throughout the grief and despair of having lost a father, a friend and confident are skillful descriptions of barren lands, incomparable Artic wildlife and flashbacks to earlier and happier times interspersed with tales of the bear's place in Native folklore around the globe.  

Together with adopted brother Ned and friend Sally, Shannon starts her quest in Kaktovik, at the northern edge of Alaska, their goal to raft the Hulahula river following directives found in her father's diary. 
Arranging for their rafting supplies and a bush pilot to fly them to Grassers strip, their starting point, is however the easy part. The weather does not cooperate and requires of the trio an overnight stay in town, the writer's description of the only available accommodation an interesting highlight!

North of Hope is a labour of love, a search for continuation, a testament that you can go on despite the grief or perhaps because of it. It is also a story of deep faith shared by someone who finds herself on the edge of uncharted land, her larger than life father gone forever. To understand Shannon, her undeniable love of music and adventures, you should first read her biography. 

In the end, like a beautiful but unfinished symphony, Shannon's 'thoughts about going to the Artic are not merely an interest but a necessity, to see the place where they died and the river which became their Requiem'...
She needed to finish their trip.

Note: I delayed posting this review as I shared this story with my family. By now a well thumbed book, we are in total agreement: North of Hope is worth much more than 5 stars!

About the Author:

Shannon Polson lives and writes in the Pacific Northwest. She was a contributing writer to More Than 85Broads, and her work has appeared in Seattle and Alaska Magazines, Cirque Journal, Adventure Magazine, and Trachodon, among others. Polson graduated with a B.A. from Duke University in English Literature, an M.B.A. from the Tuck School at Dartmouth, and an M.F.A. from Seattle Pacific University. 
She served eight years as an attack helicopter pilot in the Army and worked five years in corporate marketing and management roles before turning to writing full time. Polson serves on the board of the Alaska Wilderness League and sings with the critically acclaimed Seattle Pro Musica. She has looked for adventure and challenge anywhere she can find it, scuba diving, sky diving and climbing around the world, including ascents of Denali and Kilimanjaro, and completing two Ironman triathlons. 
She and her family enjoy backpacking, any kind of skiing, paddling, and spending as much time outdoors as they can in the Western states and Alaska. In September 2009, Polson was awarded the Trailblazer Woman of Valor award from Washington State Senator Maria Cantwell. 
For additional information see (HERE) including Zondervan's link to read the first chapter (HERE).

 (Hulahula River)

 I received this ARC from HANDLEBAR MARKETING as part of their blogger review program. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

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