Christianbook.com Ratings and Reviews

Customer Reviews for Zondervan North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey

Zondervan North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey

After author Shannon Huffman Polson's parents are killed by a wild grizzly bear in Alaska's Arctic, her quest for healing is recounted with heartbreaking candor in North of Hope. Undergirded by her faith, Polson's expedition takes her through her through the wilds of her own grief as well as God's beautiful, yet wild and untamed creation---ultimately arriving at a place of unshaken hope. She travels from the suburbs of Seattle to the concert hall, performing Mozart's Requiem with the Seattle Symphony, to the wilderness of Alaska---where she retraces their final days along an Arctic river. This beautifully written book is for anyone who has experienced grief and is looking for new ways to understand overwhelming loss. Readers will find empathy and understanding through Polson's journey. North of Hope is also for those who love the outdoors and find solace and healing in nature, as they experience Alaska's wild Arctic through the author's travels.
Average Customer Rating:
3.524 out of 5
3.5
 out of 
5
(21 Reviews) 21
Open Ratings Snapshot
Rating Snapshot (21 reviews)
5 stars
4
4 stars
8
3 stars
4
2 stars
5
1 star
0
15 out of 2171%customers would recommend this product to a friend.
Customer Reviews for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Review 1 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

An interest in arctic river rafting

Date:June 11, 2013
Customer Avatar
marygems
Location:new zealand
Age:55-65
Gender:female
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
I think this book would appeal to those who enjoy river rafting and those who are journeying through grief, as I was.
0points
0of 0voted this as helpful.
Review 2 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Date:May 16, 2013
Customer Avatar
Courtney
Quality: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Value: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Polson's North of Hope was my latest read from the BookSneeze program. I was very excited to read about the author's journey which takes us through the Alaskan wilderness as Polson retraces the steps her father and stepmother took before their unfortunate death by a grizzly bear. Although this is a story worthy of sharing, I found Polson's writing style slow and boring, which made for a rather rough read. Not only is Polson's writing style hard to get through, but the topic is rather dark (obviously) and difficult to swallow. Therefore, the act of reading through this sad and tragic story was rather trying.
I feel as though this could be a good book for someone to read if they, too, are experiencing loss or trying to cope with the death of a loved one. However, I urge you to first search for other texts to lift your spirits because this book doesn't seem to resolve with a happy ending. In fact, I'm not sure that Polson ever resolves anything at all. We seem to be left in the dark concerning whether Polson found her trip helpful in coping with the death of her loved ones.
Overall, although this is an intriguing story and one certain worthy of being told, it is very slow paced and the author's writing style makes it difficult to read. I would recommend it to individuals currently dealing with loss, but would urge you to not make it your only source of comfort.
0points
0of 0voted this as helpful.
Review 3 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

A Journey of Grief and Healing

Date:May 8, 2013
Customer Avatar
Janet P
Location:El Cajon, CA
Quality: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Value: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
North of Hope A Daughter's Arctic Journey is written by Shannon Huffman Polson. After Shannon's father and stepmother Kathy are killed by a grizzly bear in Alaska, Shannon travels to Alaska to retrace their journey. As Shannon tells the story of her journey, which includes her adopted brother Ned and his friend, she recalls anecdotes about her father and her life growing up with him. Towards the end of the journey,(after a violent confrontation with her brother), Shannon starts to feel acceptance of the situation and states that this acceptance is how she will honor her father and stepmother.
My thoughts: I felt a little depressed reading this book. I also didn't understand why she would travel with her brother Ned when they seemed to have a contentious relationship, but maybe it was meant to happen because after the confrontation with Ned, Shannon experienced a new loss of relationship and a new sadness. She then decided to choose joy over pain and gratitude over grief. And for the first time, prompted by greater losses, she could let go. I'm glad I read the book to the end because it does end on a positive note and happiness for Shannon.
+1point
1of 1voted this as helpful.
Review 4 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Date:May 5, 2013
Customer Avatar
Jennifer M
Location:Phoenix
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
"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.*
+2points
2of 2voted this as helpful.
Review 5 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Brilliant!

Date:May 1, 2013
Customer Avatar
Pilar Arsenec
Location:New Jersey
Age:45-54
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Shannon Huffman Polson is a virtuoso. She writes with such brilliance, as she weaves her story of loss and hope. She takes you on her pilgrimage through the Alaskan Artic in search for answers. Her experiences will leave you breathless, in wonder and awe.
I love memoirs like this one, written with such depth, thoughtfulness and creativity. Besides which, Shannon Huffman Polson is an extraordinary writer.
I highly recommend North of Hope, it is brilliant. One of the best memoirs I have read in a long time.
+1point
1of 1voted this as helpful.
Review 6 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

Too much story in an otherwise interesting story

Date:April 30, 2013
Quality: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Value: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
1 out of 5
1 out of 5
Every human being has a personal story, but not every story should be a book.
Such might be the case regarding "North of Hope" by Shannon Huffman Polson (published by Zondervan), or at least not in the heavily chronicled format in which it has gone to print.
First, let me state "North of Hope" is an intensely personal story, and I admire Polson for revealing to her readers what she has about the most difficult aspects of her personal journey. It's a story of a woman who, as a girl, developed a deep attachment to her father, especially after her parents divorced. Making her dad happy was a (if not the) driving force in her life. So when her father and stepmother were tragically killed by a rogue bear in the remote wilderness of Alaska, Polson's life was upended.
As a means of working through her grief and attempting to right her life after such a tragedy, Polson decided to traverse the Alaskan wilderness by rafting down a river to the place where her father and stepmother were killed. The telling of the story weaves back and forth between Polson first learning of the tragedy and life afterward, and her wilderness journey.
That's where the reader can get bogged down.
Not in the back and forth of the story-telling, but in the great amount of detail Polson puts into telling her story. In painting thorough word pictures for her readers, Polson delves too deeply into the more mundane setting of the story. You'll learn more about Alaska than you need to know, as well as about the details of Polson's trip and earlier life. Providing a full context for a whole story is important, but this book simply buries the reader in too much detail.
As a result, some of the connection the reader could have with the writer is lost. Had Polson kept her story-telling cropped more closely to her personal experience, rather than all the detail surrounding her experience, the reader would have likely gained a greater insight about the author and a deeper sharing of her journey. The personal story is there, it's just smothered with too much unnecessary information.
Some readers will connect with this book regardless of how much detail they will have to wade through to encounter the personal aspects of the author's life, but I'm afraid many will become weary with the amount of effort it will take to finish this volume.
With respect to Polson, who's personal story is a remarkable one, "North of Hope" is weighted down with too much minutia to be broadly recommended.
I received this book free from Handlebar as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
0points
1of 2voted this as helpful.
Review 7 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5

north of hope review

Date:April 25, 2013
Customer Avatar
beckie
Age:35-44
Gender:female
"North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey" is a memoir written by Shannon Huffman Polson reliving the author's grief and recovery after her parents having been killed by a bear in the Arctic while camping. After the killing of her parents, Shannon, an Alaskan, decides to follow the route her parents took during their last trip in the Arctic. She gets to know her parents better and settle her grief.
Though this is an amazing story, and really, how could she not have written a book about such unusual circumstances; it isn't all that good. She goes into overkill with the descriptions. She also goes off on off-the-wall analogies. Shannon, the main character, is hard to get to know. Rather than getting to know her personally, she presents herself to the reader in a melodramatic fashion that is a bit unnerving. It's not poorly written; but it is distracting. The writing style makes it hard to care about the characters. I would recommend giving this book a try, for the storyline alone, however, it just wasn't my brand of book. C+
-1point
0of 1voted this as helpful.
Review 8 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Not for everyone

Date:April 21, 2013
Customer Avatar
shannon
Location:midwest
Age:35-44
Gender:female
Quality: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Value: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Shannon Polson really lays it on the line and puts it all out there! Her feelings, despair, and trying to understand or make sense of what has happened. Many times we try to make sense of some senseless act that really and truly we will never understand. I think in the end it all about accepting that sometimes we just have no power to stop it and have to eventually when the time is right start the healing process. This is a sad book and not for everyone. I found it really too sad to finish and while many might love it I didn't love it, but I didn't hate it. It was just not what I wanted to read at this time. Right now there is just too much sadness in the news to handle reading about it also. So I will put this book up on my bookshelf and get it out again sometime and see how I like it.
-1point
0of 1voted this as helpful.
Review 9 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

Beautiful Writing; Missing Important "Peace"

Date:April 13, 2013
Customer Avatar
Heather
Location:AK
Age:35-44
Gender:female
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Shannon Huffman Polson has bravely woven together the dialogue she struggled/struggles with in her mind and heart after her father and stepmother were killed by an Alaskan grizzly bear. Her book, a memoir, winds effortlessly between her current search for understanding and release, the ties she feels through her choir participation in Mozart's Requiem in memory of her loved ones, and memories of her past.
A grieving heart may find comfort in this book; relate to the soul-searching, the questioning, and the desire to make a pilgrimage in honor of a lost loved one, seeking answers that may never come (and finding peace with that). My sadness at the end of this book is found in the deep desired longing to find the peace that God offers; I'm left wondering what kind of peace Shannon found. Was it just a peace to move on with life or was it an everlasting peace?
I was given an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I've lost many loved ones in my life; through age, disease, and tragic situations. I can't imagine that death of our loved ones could be easy for anyone. Knowing there is true hope in life eternal found through Jesus Christ, our Creator and Saviour, gives my heart a peace beyond understanding. It isn't found in what we do in the here and now. (Ephesians 2:8-9 "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: Not of works lest any man should boast.") My disappointment in this book isn't found in Shannon's honest reflection of what she has gone through.. It is found in the most significant missing story: a lost soul won't read anywhere in this book about how to find the peace that only comes through salvation and a true faith found in Jesus' redemptive work on the cross.
0points
0of 0voted this as helpful.
Review 10 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

an honest journey through grief

Date:April 12, 2013
Customer Avatar
bookwomanjoan
Location:Oak Harbor, WA
Age:55-65
Gender:female
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Shannon's life fell apart in 2005. First, she and her long time boyfriend, the man with whom she was smitten, broke up. A few days later, she received the phone call. Rafting the Hulahula River in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, he dad and step-mom were attacked and killed by a grizzly. (Before and since their death, there has been no known humans killed by bears in the Refuge.)
A year later, Shannon was on that same river, taking the same trip, with her adopted brother and woman who was his work colleague.
The trip would be a sacred journey, a pilgrimage. She would come to realize that the reason for the trip was to face the beast of grief within herself. She was also waiting to hear from God, not sure of what he would say or how He would say it.
She interweaves her family story and her experience with singing into her account of the rafting trip. Her father had been drafted for the Vietnam war but his law degree allowed him to be posted to Alaska. After his military commitment was completed, he stayed in Alaska, practicing law in Anchorage. Shannon grew up in Alaska but ended up working in Seattle after her college experience.
As Shannon flies to the drop off point, she thinks, “It would be easier not to believe in God. It would be easier not to have to make sense of this. Maybe this place was too far north for prayer, too far north for hope.” (61)
There are two aspects of this book that will appeal to readers. First is Shannon's journey through grief. She writes with candor as she comes to grips with the untimely and tragic death of her father and step-mother.
The second aspect is the adventure of Alaska. Readers will learn about migrating birds and animals like the Porcupine Caribou Herd. Shannon also includes in her narrative other journeys she has made into the Alaska wilderness, such as hiking Hatcher Pass in the Talkeetna Mountains.
This is a moving narrative of grief, searching for meaning in the midst of tragedy, and finding the comforting presence of God.
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.
+1point
1of 1voted this as helpful.
Review 11 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Beautiful writing, help for those who are grieving

Date:April 9, 2013
Customer Avatar
NewChristianBooks
Location:Chicago, IL
Age:35-44
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
(click to see the video)
User submitted video
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.
+1point
1of 1voted this as helpful.
Review 12 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Hope

Date:April 9, 2013
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
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.
+1point
1of 1voted this as helpful.
Review 13 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Painful, valuable quest

Date:April 6, 2013
Customer Avatar
gadfly1974
Location:Rochester, NY
Age:35-44
Gender:male
Alaskan Wilderness. Beauty. The horror of a fatal bear attack.
Hatred. Healing. Hope.
You have to pick up this book. It will be difficult to put down.
Read about one woman’s quest to retrace her father’s final steps.
There are no simple answers. Pain is messy.
I recommend this book to you even if you don’t usually enjoy memoirs. This one is different.
Disclaimer: The publisher provided a free copy of this book in return for my honest review.
0points
1of 2voted this as helpful.
Review 14 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

North of Hope

Date:April 4, 2013
Customer Avatar
mamaof4
Location:Tennessee
Age:45-54
Gender:female
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
“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.
+1point
1of 1voted this as helpful.
Review 15 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5

A Memoir that offers something for many readers

Date:April 4, 2013
Customer Avatar
Sierra
Location:Dayton, OH
Age:25-34
Gender:female
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
When given the opportunity to read North of Hope, my interest was piqued because I do enjoy memoirs and though the subject seemed tragic, the setting of the Pacific Northwest (my home) and Alaska were draws for me.
In her memoir, Polson is thrown into the abyss of grief when her parents are killed by a horrible bear attack while traveling along an Arctic river. Her story goes back and forth from childhood memories, her early adulthood, the logical and necessary arrangements that go with burying family members, and singing Mozart's Requiem with a Seattle choir shortly after their deaths. What ties everything together is Polson's trip down the Hulahula River, retracing the trek her father and stepmother were making the year before when they died. She travels with her adopted brother, with whom she has a strained relationship, and his female rafting friend who is a stranger to Polson. She seems to want closure. She wants answers. Does she find them on the river?
There were things I did like and things that were not so great about this book. Polson spends a lot of time going into detail describing the landscape or talking about flowers that she sees. Her vocabulary is great and I can imagine what she's relating but I felt like it dragged on a little more than I would have preferred. I wanted to get into the story, not dwell on plants and location. She also switches frequently between the past of her childhood, her situation shortly after the tragedy, and her time on the river. It does create a nice arc and each piece does fit together into the eventual picture but while going through the book it was like being pulled forcibly from one place to another when I just wanted to spend more time in one spot for awhile.
Something I wish the author wrote more about was the relationship with her brother Ned on the river. When he has the eventual blow-up it seemed to come from no where. Really, for the entire river trip he seemed like a shadow figure, not really having much character presence in the story. Sally, was portrayed like more of a friend and companion than Ned, but other than having people to paddle, Polson's story seems very solitary, almost lonely.
I have never experienced the kind of life shattering grief Polson has gone through. Where she finds her salve and how she deals with such tragedy is enlightening and inspiring. Set in beautiful landscape, this memoir has something to offer for many readers.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255
0points
0of 0voted this as helpful.
Review 16 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

A Very Personal Journey

Date:April 4, 2013
Customer Avatar
Patricia L
Age:25-34
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
What is it about? This book is Shannon Polson's memoir. In it, she chronicles her journey through Alaska as she retraces the route her father and stepmother were taking when they were mauled to death by a grizzly bear. It is Polson's way of grieving and accepting the sudden loss of her parents. Accompanying her on this trip are her estranged brother and his girlfriend. Woven throughout the book are themes of nature, music and faith.
What did I think? Well, first off, I think Polson writes beautifully. Perhaps her music background comes into play in this because many times I found her word choice poetic ... lyrical. A little of my own background here... I have been interested in Alaska for quite some time. It is where my grandparents were married and I often heard very romanticized stories about life there from my grandmother. I was also a big fan of Michelle Mitton's now-defunct blog Scribbit, where she shared daily life as a mother of four in Alaska. Seeing as I had an interest in Alaska, I found Polson's descriptions quite thorough and detailed.
While I enjoyed and appreciated the descriptive writing, I did have some difficulty connecting to the actual story being told. Grief is a very personal thing and I think that is part of the problem. I may have had more of a connection to this book if I were dealing with a loss, so over time, it may be a book I come back to. I applaud Polson for taking a courageous journey to deal with her grief and then sharing it with the masses.
+1point
1of 1voted this as helpful.
Review 17 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

North of Hope: A Review

Date:April 3, 2013
Customer Avatar
Diana Harkness
Age:55-65
Gender:female
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
I rarely read memoirs, and requested this book by mistake because I thought it was fiction. What else could it be when a couple is mauled and killed by a grizzly bear? That just doesn’t happen in real life. To my chagrin, the book that arrived was a memoir, North of Hope by Shannon Huffman Polson, the daughter of one of the people killed by the grizzly. I opened the pages, not quite knowing what to expect, and was greeted by two old friends: Ralph Waldo Emerson and Christian Wiman. “This has promise,” I told myself and waded in, identifying almost immediately with Shannon’s need to know answers—under the premise that sufficient knowledge will turn back the clock. But as she discovered, there really are no answers that satisfy.
I followed Shannon through the funeral, cleaning out the house, and resuming her own life, hoping for a point of connection; I recently buried my mother. But the numbness of death continued through the reading of this well-crafted memoir, and despite its heavy subject, I could not get past the craft to probe the depths. Here’s a look at the funeral:
A few days later, one of Dad’s colleagues shook his head and looked into the distance. “It’s hard to believe,” he said. “I saw him every day of the work week and some weekends for twenty-five year. I can’t believe he’s gone.” I felt a twinge of jealousy. He’d spent more time with my dad than I had. . .
The cemetery in Healy sits on a hill framed by mountains of the Alaska Range. Dad and Kathy’s friend Shorty, who lived nearby, said that he walked his dogs there every day. It was the place with the best view of the northern lights when they danced in fall and winter night skies. The tundra was decorated with early fireweed and lupine, a fence of spruce trees. Shorty had dug a perfectly square grave facing east to hold both coffins and hauled away most of the fill. . . Dad’s army friend George and his wife, Joanne, stood off to the side next to a lone pine tree, as though unable to step any closer to that hole, as though standing next to the tree might protect them somehow.
Father Jack performed the service for our small group standing on the Alaskan tundra. The mountains stood witness, watching familiar scenes of death and grief that played like shadows on their slopes each day.
I stood at the corner of the chasm closest to Dad’s coffin. My breath came shallowly, a susurrus leaking oxygen to thick reluctant blood. I knelt. I kissed the hard, cold surface of the coffin. The week caught up with me like a rifle shot. I touched the coffin with faltering fingers. Again. And again. The dark, gaping hole. The cold boxes. My legs gave way. Pages 113-114.
Shannon, an avid adventurer, decides to retrace her father’s path and raft along the same wild Alaskan river.
It was a sacred journey. A pilgrimage. But surely it was not only about a river. The river flowed by, running, always running. I wanted it to stop. I wanted it to flow in reverse. I wanted there to be a dam in the river somewhere far back in the mountains, a lake to catch the water and keep it safe for swimming, for drinking, for watching sunlight dancing on the surface of still waters. But the water flowed mercilessly north. There was healing in the tyranny, and tyranny in the healing. North of Hope, p. 124-125.
On her journey she begins to realize something about herself and some things about life.
“This, it now seems to me, is a difference between people of the land, and people on the land, between humility and hubris. It is why a part of our Western culture looks with envy at indigenous people’s beliefs: they come from a deeper wisdom of themselves and their world than we can hope to reclaim. We envy this, while ignoring the potential of this wisdom in the name of supposed progress, even as such progress continues to erode that wisdom or the possibility of our ever recovering it.” p. 169.
I would not spend too much time pondering these words. It is a mistake to believe that indigenous people (whoever they might be) have cornered the market on wisdom. The Bible speaks often about wisdom because God is the Father of Wisdom. We can stop worrying about losing the wisdom of indigenous people when God’s wisdom is available to any who seek Him.
Shannon did come to realize the limitations of her trip, indeed the limitations of life. “This trip won’t make it okay. It’s never going to be okay. . . . It’s not supposed to be okay. “ p. 178. She realizes this on the river and when she visits her dying grandmother. “I understood why it is said that hearts break. I’d understood for a while now. Underground rivers of sadness scald like fire. And so I felt that ripping and burning of a soul and a heart, breaking in relief at talking to her, breaking in seeing her face and holding her hand, breaking as I felt Dad and Kathy’s absence and knowing they would want to be there too, breaking because I was losing her and I didn’t know how much more loss I could bear.” p. 185
This memoir moved in and out of Mozart’s Requiem and gave me glimpses into the life of grizzly bears and the untamed beauty of the Alaskan wilderness. It was eminently readable. I had hoped that it would give me insight into grief, but it didn’t, perhaps because the author, herself, has no insight to share. This memoir left me as cold as the frigid water of that Alaskan river, and although the author continually tossed me crumbs she was unable to satiate me. But maybe that’s her point. There are no satisfactory answers to life’s most devastating losses.
I received this book free through a book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
0points
0of 0voted this as helpful.
Review 18 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5

Insight into Grieving and Loss

Date:April 3, 2013
Customer Avatar
Millstreetreader
Age:55-65
Gender:female
Quality: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Value: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
North of Hope by Shannon Huffman Polson
Seattle, June 23, 2005, Shannon Huffman received the devastating phone call that her father and step-mother had been killed by a rogue bear in Alaska's National Wildlife Refuge Area. Her memoir North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey chronicles a somber, but affirming trip to retrace and complete her parents' Hulahula River trip, a process that will be both an expression of her grief and a needed healing.
In recent years, I've read several memoirs that documented the grieving process after the loss of loved ones. Some deaths were expected after long illnesses and some, like the Huffmans, were totally unexpected. Some memoirs focused on treasured memories and others delved into the darkest corners of human emotion as the survivors are completely swallowed by their pain. Huffman shares her pain, but at the same time shows both strength and insight that will help others. She shares her faith in God, at a time she says would be easier to not believe, in a place that should be too far north for prayer, too far north for hope. But it is prayer that she seeks when she finally makes it to the campsite when the mauling occurred. She begins to find peace and loves her dad and stepmom even more as she learns the wilderness landscape, its flowers and birds, that they loved so much. Although her raft mates are a stranger and an estranged adopted brother, Huffman finds the trip to be a sacred journey, a pilgrimage to understanding. In the end, she knows we are never alone in our pain, and we must face that life is about living in the midst of what can't be understood.
Woven throughout the details of the trip are various asides, often about her participation in a classical chorus group who sang Mozart's Requiem. Through these, she reveals much about the power of music in our relationship with God, especially in times of grief. Another powerful passage was her description of emptying the family home in preparation for its sale. Another was her compulsion in the months after the death to learn as much as she could about bears until she could reconcile her horror of the attack with a developing awe for their legacy in the Arctic.
Like her father, Polson has shown a great respect and love for the wilderness throughout her life.
She shares more of those feelings on her website and blog. Those who are moved by her wilderness trip may want to check out her other postings. The book itself I would recommend to grief counselors, pastors, and those who are dealing with loss themselves. As Polson quietly points out, that is all of us. I received a copy of North of Hope from Handlebar Publishing for review purposes. All opinions of my own
+1point
1of 1voted this as helpful.
Review 19 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Finding Hope in Despair

Date:April 1, 2013
Customer Avatar
DeannaMary
Location:Palmdale, CA
Age:25-34
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Handlebar Publishing in conjunction with Zondervan provided a complimentary book, North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey, in exchange for an honest review.
Grief of any kind can lead us down a path of uncertainty. We look for the why, the purpose in the face of such loss. But, when tragedy strikes and the loss is compounded everything we hold dear to mixes into a matrix of confusion. Death stops us in our tracks. How does one stare grief down with courage and begin to live again? Where does hope intersect grief?
Author Shannon Huffman Polson answered that call to search for answers and courageously shares her journey when her life seemed to shatter. In June 2005 Polson received a phone call shaking to her core: her dad, Richard, and stepmother, Kathy, had been killed by a grizzly bear as they camped along the Hulahula River. Raised in Alaska Polson understood nature's dichotomy of its inherent beauty and wild nature. However, she never fathomed the brutality the arctic landscape could claim.
The loss of her beloved parents leads Polson to embark on the same journey down the Hulahula that stole her family one year later. Through adventure, beauty and sadness she finds life amongst her tears and questions. There are some answers that will never be known, but other questions were answered in ways she didn't expect. It would be an understatement to say this was a trip of a lifetime. Many never have to face such harrowing circumstances.
Any reader would be blessed to steal a glimpse of this woman's experience. I was completely mesmerized with Polson's beautiful eloquence. She is a master at her craft to overlay elegance on top of wild grief. Yet, the harshness of the Arctic is tangible. Her heartache bores into the reader. There has never been an author I have admired more in a memoir. The author lends words to the heart that are often difficult to put words to.
Even if grief isn't rending your heart, North of Hope will capture yours in a beat. This memoir will engage your emotions that many books simply cannot do. It can encourage the grief-stricken to look forward and up at the horizon and see hope is there. Rainbows will be seen in the storms. Hope is what will walk you through the valley. Polson captures much of the human experience in 252 pages. I found bits of myself reflected throughout. It is validating to share in someone's journey and come to understand something more of myself. I cannot recommend North of Hope enough, nor capture its soul in a review. It is beautiful book of the heart.
+1point
1of 1voted this as helpful.
Review 20 for North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
Overall Rating: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5

Excellent Read! Loved it!

Date:March 25, 2013
Customer Avatar
Ihopeyoudance
Location:Kansas
Age:18-24
Gender:female
Quality: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Value: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Meets Expectations: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
I was really excited about reading this book because of the adventure that Shannon has going to the Arctic! I also found the history and wildlife information fascinating. That being said, this book jumps back and forth between the present and past and the inter workings of the author's mind. I loved this book, but others might not enjoy reading because it can get a bit boring and confusing when going from one thing to the next. I know many readers enjoy fiction and this is not fiction. This is straight up real life, and it is not pretty to read the many details about her parents death, which she does include. The author did a ton of research prior to her trip and I would highly recommend this book!!
There is not really a book to compare to this one but it reminds me of Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer.
North of Hope hits stores April 9, 2013!!
"I received this book for free from Handlebar Direction for Publishing in exchange for an honest review".
+1point
1of 1voted this as helpful.
12Next >>>