How is it possible to write so beautifully about such a painful topic? Polson is a gifted writer whose words will bring comfort to those who have lost loved ones. I highly recommend this book for many reasons, not the least of which is the beautifully executed prose.
Polson's parents are killed by a grizzly bear during a rafting and camping trip through the Arctic wilderness. Polson eventually responds to this tragic event by retracing their steps through the Alaskan wilderness, taking the same white water rafting trip herself. The book describes the trip, but also her own journey of grief and healing.
She writes: "This was not simply a trip into the wilderness, though that would be challenge and adventure enough. This was a journey over the jagged edge of loss."
While it's a heavy topic, the book is ultimately uplifting. Polson is honest about her faith, and her doubts, questions and anger at this senseless tragedy. Her ultimate resolution feels authentic and honest.
Interwoven with the travelogue are chapters about another interesting piece of Polson's grieving process: she signs up to sing the Mozart Requiem with the Seattle Symphony. Her descriptions of the rehearsals and the music itself are beautiful, and it creates an interesting counterpoint to the descriptions of her white-water rafting adventure.
This would be a great resource to recommend or give to anyone who has lost a loved one. It would also be a great tool for grief support groups or pastors who counsel those who grieve.
I lost my dad a few years ago under tragic circumstances that I will someday be brave enough to write about. I go through periods of peace with his loss and periods of the stabbing pain of grief. I ache when I tell stories of him to my children because they don't remember him and so don't fully understand him or my tales of his antics. I think anyone who losses a parent or child grieves in a unique way. No two journeys of grief seem to be the same. The process of grief is like a snowflake- unique, beautiful, and cold.
Shannon Huffman Polson lost her father and stepmother in a tragic event. She was far away as they lost their lives to a bear attack in the Artic. North of Hope is Polson's journey of grief following the loss of these two loved ones. Polson sets out on a journey to retrace the steps of her Dad and Kathy on that fateful trip down the HulaHula river.
I've never been to Alaska and I'm not much of an outdoor enthusiast so there was quite a bit of unfamiliar language in this book. Once I began reading, though I was drawn into her story. I could relate to many of her feelings since I too lost my father. I could understand her emotions following her parents' divorce. Reading someone else's memoir can be difficult with the flow of thought and differences in rhetoric, but I did enjoy the tribute to her dad and stepmother.
Just as we (Christians) each hold a different and special relationship with Jesus, we each follow the path of loss and grief differently. I think reading someone else's trek through a difficult loss can give us strength and motivation to maneuver our own process.
This is a great book for those struggling through grief, still processing a loss, and those who live the outdoor lifestyle of hiking and canoeing.
I received a free copy of this book from Handlebar Publishing for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.
I was sent a review copy of the book "North of Hopefollow" by Shannon Polson. Shannon lost her father and step-mother to an awful grizzly bear attack in the Alaskan wilderness. To be honest, I am not a big fan of this book. I love to read Christian novels. This book was published by Zondervan but did not live up to my expectations of a Christian book from Zondervan. That being said, if this was marketed as just a book and was published by a commonly secular publisher, I likely would have had a much different opinion. In her book Shannon recalls the details of the attack that took the lives of her dad and step-mom. She combines them with ideas, struggles, her faith and even music. If you like books along these lines then you might enjoy this book too.
"North of Hope" by Shannon Huffman Polson, book review
Author Shannon Polson lives what many live in fear of, that phone call that says your loved ones have passed. For her, it was her father and stepmother, who were vacationing in the wilds of Alaska, and they had died in a rare bear attack. In dealing with her grief, Polson, also travels to Alaska to walk in her father's last foot steps, to gain some personal closure.
This book chronicles her path of grief and the remote places it leads her. I did find the chapters and story a little difficult to follow, as she tended to jump around the time line from past to present, and many chapters dealt with her deep thoughts and feelings of the times. She shares many details of her life and the relationship with her father and stepmother, sometimes difficult.
This book would be for someone who has an interest in the wilds of Alaska, as much of the book discusses various aspects of this often uncharted land. But there is a sad undercurrent to the story, that did leave me a little depressed, as she kept searching for something she could not ever find.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from Handlebar Direction for Publishing. All opinions expressed are my own.