Non-Fiction

Braving It

I have a slight addiction to reality shows about Alaska. Well, not an addiction, per say. More like a fascination. In today’s culture of noise and social media and busy schedules, seeing the slower, quieter pace of those living in the Alaskan wilderness never fails to grab my attention. One such show is “The Last Alaskans.” If you haven’t seen it, it follows the lives of a handful of people who live in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 1980, the United States government banned further human occupation in the refuge. These families are the last that are allowed to make a home there, and “The Last Alaskans” follows these people as they deal with bitter weather, setbacks and aggressive animals in this untamed wilderness.

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One of the couples on the show is Heimo, the “godfather of the final frontier” and his wife Edna. So when I found out that Heimo’s cousin, James Campbell, was writing a book about Alaska, I was immediately interested.

Heimo asks James to come to Alaska for the summer, to help him build a new cabin. James accepts the invitation, and then…after much deliberation…decides to take his fifteen year old daughter along, as well. The story that follows is spellbinding. The author gives us an up close and personal view of life in the rugged terrain of Alaska; from the weather that was much colder than planned, to the clouds and clouds (literally) of mosquitos, to learning how to perform daily tasks without drawing the attention of dangerous animals. We see the frustration as the daughter learns how to build a cabin and adjusts to life in the forest, as well as her resolve to prove herself to Heimo, Edna, her father, and herself.

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The best part of this book, however, was watching the relationship between the author and his daughter, as well as the descriptions of the Alaskan wilderness. James Campbell did a beautiful job of creating a very rich, thought provoking and sometimes poignant book, to transport his readers away from the noise of their busy worlds, to the wilds of the last frontier.

Bottom Line: A must-read for wayfarers and wanderers.

**Thank you to Blogging for Books for the opportunity to read and review this book! 

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