Thursday, April 11, 2013

Book Review: North of Hope by Shannon Huffman Polson

North of Hope is a memoir of a daughter’s journey to retrace the steps of her father and step-mother that were killed while journeying in an Alaskan wilderness. They were killed by a grizzly bear; a 45-70 gun appeared to be the last thing her father touched. As she progresses through the journey, she goes back to their notes explaining when they reached certain points on their journey. She also recovers memories along the way such as how her father touched her life as a child and an adult, and the last time she saw and talked to him. The memoir distinctly describes how the same journey through the same wilderness can be much different for some people than others.

The descriptive language used throughout the novel was amazing to me, which I think is needed in a memoir such as this because not everybody knows what journeying in a real wilderness is like. As I was reading, I sensed that retracing her father and step-mother’s journey and writing about it was probably Shannon’s way to process the grief she felt in losing them. She seemed to try to imagine what they could have been doing as she reached certain points of their journey. I liked how she added different parts of the Jewish tradition that she had implanted in her mind and/or heart throughout parts of her story, such as how she recalled that Jewish tradition says that God could be heard in the songs of birds. I think she was brave to retrace their steps, and that it was strongly needed for her to put her mind at rest.

I don’t think this kind of adventure to process grief is for everybody but I do think it shows that others can create their own type of adventure or activity, big or small, at home or far away from home, to process their grief in ways that are right for them.

I received this advanced reader's copy free from Handlebar Publishing for this review. I was not r


  1. Great review. Thanks for your thoughts!

    BTW- I have 8 giveaways going on at my site this week and I'd love it if you stopped over and checked them out.

    Hope you have a super weekend!
    Diane :)

  2. Thank you so much for your thoughtful read and review! For anyone interested, Goodreads has a North of Hope giveaway on through April 28th, and this week the ebook version is 1.99 on Nook and Kindle! I look forward to hearing readers' thoughts.

    Best regards,

    Shannon Huffman Polson