"I recommend this book to the individual reader, as well as to a book club looking to encourage thoughtful discussion..."Saturday Evening Post
"Book clubs and readers of all ages...will identify with the protagonists' quest to be true to themselves."Library Journal
"I finished the book with tears in my eyes, ready to recommend it to friends and students alike."School Library Journal
"A lovely uplifting read - you'll love it."Essentials Magazine
"...once you start listening to what Donna has to say, you'll be glued to your seat until she's finished her tale."Beth Fish Reads
"...wonderfully captures the feel of small-town 1950s, a young woman's yearning for freedom..."Publishers Weekly
"In Donna, Short presents a heroine forced into a youthful maturity that doesn't rob her of optimism, loyalty and amazing good sense."Shelf Awareness
"...a quest story that resonates for men as well as women in a heartwarming and compassionate way."Historical Novel Review
"Donna is a compelling character with whom readers can easily identify."Romantic Times Book Reviews
"It's not that often I read a book that can evoke so much emotion in me... Beautiful story. Five stars."Book Babe
"My emotions ran wild while reading this book... Readers from young adults to senior citizens will enjoy this tender story."
"This book picked me up in a red convertible with the top down and set me down right back in Ohio in the 1950′s... a beautiful piece of Americana, thought provoking, and a worthwhile read."
A Traveler's Library
"One of the most beautifully written, most moving books I have ever read. A view into the beauty and grace of an extraordinary family. This book is a gift to all who read it."
Cayocosta72 Book Reviews
"I definitely recommend this book...to readers of YA, historical fiction, and women's fiction... has something for everyone."
Candace's Book Blog
"This book was so much more than I expected it to be... about grief and friendship, family, dreams and first loves... it will grab at your heart..."
Eddy-New Rockford (North Dakota) Library Blog
"Recommended for older teen and adult readers. Special interest to readers looking for a sensitive coming of age story and anyone who ever dreamed of running away to the frontier."
Born Librarian Blog
"...a sweet story with a plucky, brave trio at its heart."
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"A compelling, entertaining read My One Square Inch of Alaska is a story defining what it means to have hope, experience love and endure loss. This is an inspirational read that is suitable for all age groups.
Night Owl Reviews
“This novel stakes a claim in your heart from its opening scene. Donna's quest for that one square inch of her brother's happiness becomes a journey of discovering her own worth, her own bravery, and her own authentic story. I adored these characters, feared for them, and rooted for them every step of the way.”
—Katrina Kittle, author of The Blessings of the Animals
"Sometimes, when you’re lucky, you come across a book so beautifully written, you know you will read it again and again. My One Square Inch of Alaska
is one of those books. From the opening lines, you’ll be swept into the lives of Donna Lane and her little brother, Will. With a junkyard dog in tow, they travel from their small town in Ohio to the Alaskan territories in the 1950s, defying all odds to follow a seemingly impossible dream. The characters are carefully rendered and completely believable. I didn’t want this book to end!"
— Sherri Wood Emmons, author of The Sometimes Daughter
From the Author
At a book club gathering, one of the women asked if anyone remembered the deeds to one square inch of Alaska that used to come in cereal boxes in the 1950s. (The question wasn't related to the book we were discussing.) The 1950s were before I was born, but I was immediately taken with this compelling concept... the desire for a deed to one tiny bit of land in a vast frontier, and what that could symbolize. Almost immediately, the shadowy image of a young woman and her little brother, standing together and holding hands, appeared in my imagination. I couldn't 'see' them yet in sharp detail, but I could 'feel' them saying, "tell our story." I had no idea what their story would or should be, but by the time I returned home, I'd written in my head the scene where Donna and Will finally see his one square inch. The scene narrated itself in what would become Donna's first person voice. I went home, wrote down the scene in a journal, and then realized I had a lot of work to do to figure out who these characters were, how they got to that one square inch, and what living in the 1950s was like for them. I spent the next two years or so mining my own imagination, as well as doing a lot of research, to bring the story to life--and I loved every minute of the process.
I believe I felt so impassioned about writing Donna and Will's story because, at its heart, it's about embracing, believing in and following one's dreams.... even if the odds are long or everyone else is saying 'you can't do this!' I've always been a believer in following one's dreams and working hard to achieve them, balancing that belief with realism. My children were at the age of transitioning from being teenagers to being young adults, so this personal experience also informed my thinking about this theme.
Every character in the novel represents some aspect of how we can respond to dreams; Jimmy and Babs find themselves under pressure to ignore exploring their own dreams in order to follow others' expectations, while many of the adult characters have denied their dreams or followed a dream that's really an illusion, and become bitter as a result. Mr. Cahill and MayJune are the adult exceptions to this; they understand and embrace their dreams, and encourage Donna and Will in theirs.
Will represents the wonderfully innocent belief of the very young in chasing dreams simply for the joy of the chase. His illness, and his awareness of its severity, give him an urgency, fierceness, and stubbornness in pursuing his dream that he might otherwise not have. His one tiny bit of territory represents the life-affirming importance of embracing one's dreams.
I also very much relate to Donna. Although I grew up more than 25 years later than she, and had different life circumstances, at our core, our emotional experiences as we grew up are very similar, so there is a lot of a younger me in Donna.