Sunday, May 5, 2013

North of Hope, by Shannon Huffman Polson

"I wasn't sure whether I'd come to this wild space to find myself or lose myself, or whether I had the capacity for either."  ~ Shannon Huffman Polson

North of Hope tells the true story of Shannon Huffman Polson, whose father and step mother were tragically killed by bears while rafting and camping in the remote Alaskan Arctic.  Ms Polson decides to undergo a life-changing journey, both figuratively and literally, by leaving her home in Seattle and traveling to the Arctic to re-trace her father's steps.  She writes in great detail about both the trip and her emotional experiences in coming to terms with the loss while she's there, as well as weaving in back story all throughout the book.

The author has a lovely, almost poetic, style of writing, and the book is very rich in vivid imagery.   I truly felt like I was experiencing the journey with her, as her descriptions of both the Alaskan wilderness and her mental state at the time were clear, specific, and painstakingly transcribed.  The emotional anguish of the trip was palpable, especially in the latter quarter of the book, as she gets closer and closer to the spot where her father camped and ultimately died.

Unfortunately, the book's strength proved to be a weakness as well.  At times the detail was so great and so lengthy that it bogged the book down, and made certain sections drag unnecessarily.  I found myself reading with great interest on minute, and then skimming the next. 

However, as it was by all accounts a very intimate and personal story, it doesn't seem too fair to nitpick its delivery.   This was her journey, and I admire her strength and tenacity in both choosing to take it at all, and then so beautifully sharing it with others.

*I received this book from Zondervon and Handlebar Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.*

1 comment:

  1. I also read and loved this book. It’s the kind of book that stuns you with its beauty, even as it describes some difficult things. I have not suffered a loss as intense as Shannon's loss of her parents, and yet her observations felt applicable to my life–I found myself nodding in agreement at her insights about grief, God and the way that any suffering transforms and strengthens us–eventually. She did not pretend that this was an easy journey, but ultimately, it was a hopeful one. I also recommend it.