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North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey Hardcover – April 9, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Shannon Huffman Polson has written a soulful and brave book about death, life, and the complexities surrounding both. There is nothing sentimental in these pages. North of Hope shows us how personal loss and loss of our planet come from the same place: Love. This is a testament to deep change, human and wild."  
-Terry Tempest Williams, author, When Women Were Birds

"Daring, perceptive, and eloquent--Polson's writing is clear and forceful. Like all true pilgrimages, this one is challenging, and well worth taking."
- Scott Russell Sanders, author, Earth Works and A Conservationist Manifesto


"Polson's extraordinary journey draws you into the depths of anguish and brings you back out realizing that while not all things fractured can be healed, the soul will gravitate toward beauty, art, and meaning if guided in the right direction."
- Alison Levine, mountaineer, polar explorer, and team captain of the first American Women's Everest Expedition

"North of Hope is an enthralling story of loss, courage, and redemption told by a gifted, original, and brave new voice, Shannon Huffman Polson."
- Robert Clark, award-winning author of ten books, including Dark Water: Flood and Redemption in the City of Masterpieces and Mr. White's Confession


"This is no ordinary memoir. To read it is to be changed." 
-Jeanne Walker, author, New Tracks, Night Falling

"Shannon Huffman Polson has written a book about loss that is both unique to her personal experience and universal to the human experience. She writes with clarity, honesty, and poise."
-Andrea Palpant Dilley, author, Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt


"North of Hope
, Shannon Polson's gripping account of the shattering, traumatic loss of her father, is a must read. It is a gift to everyone who reads this powerful, inspiring story."
-Janet Hanson, CEO and founder, 85 Broads
 
"North of Hope is a remarkable story about the power of the wilderness both to harm and to heal, and to provide strength and sustenance to the human spirit, no matter what the challenges."
-Nicholas O'Connell, author, The Storms of Denali ; instructor

Review

Shannon Huffman Polson has written a soulful and brave book about death, life, and the complexities surrounding both. There is nothing sentimental in these pages. North of Hope shows us how personal loss and loss of our planet come from the same place: Love. This is a testament to deep change, human and wild. -- Terry Tempest Williams, , author, When Women Were Birds
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (April 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310328764
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310328766
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (127 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #400,246 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Shannon Huffman Polson writes about the borders we navigate every day. Her first book, a memoir called "North of Hope," was released spring 2013 by Zondervan/Harper Collins. Her essays and articles appear in Huffington Post, High Country News, Seattle and Alaska Magazines, as well as other literary magazines and periodicals and her work is anthologized in "More Than 85 Broads" and "Be There Now: Travel Stories From Around the World."

Polson was born in Anchorage, Alaska, and grew up loving the outdoors. After studying English Literature at Duke, she headed from the ivory tower to the tarmac of Ft. Rucker, AL, where she flew Apaches in the first crop of women attack helicopter pilots. An MBA at the Tuck School at Dartmouth transitioned her to five years in marketing at two companies. Now she's back in the books, and back in love. Polson has scuba dived on three continents, sky dived on two, and climbed the highest mountain in North America and Africa. When she's not writing, she can be found in the mountains of Washington and Alaska with her family, accompanied by their Alaskan husky, serving on the board of the Alaska Wilderness League, singing with a local choral group and participating as an active member of her church. In 2009 Polson was awarded the Trailblazer Woman of Valor award by Senator Maria Cantwell. Polson earned her MFA in Creative Non-fiction from Seattle Pacific University in August of 2012.

Find more at www.aborderlife.com.

Customer Reviews

I loved how Shannon Huffman Polson was very real and transparent about the grief she experienced along the journey.
Andrew Smith
The unrestrained beauty and ferocity of the landscape is such a perfect metaphor for her harrowing and beautifully spiritual journey of acceptance and healing.
Catherine Kim
If you think your life is difficult--read this book (because it will likely give you some much needed perspective)!
Keri W. Kent

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Arthur Digbee VINE VOICE on March 19, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
While they were rafting down a remote river in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Polson's father and stepmother were killed by a barren-ground grizzly bear. This book is Polson's attempt to make sense of the events and deal with the grief - as well as reflect on her parents' lives, and her own. It's structured around her own trip down the same river, including a visit to the fatal campsite.

She weaves several different themes together. Some parts are her own memoirs; others reflect on Dad's and Kathy's lives, individually and jointly. (Polson's mother, who divorced Dad about twenty years previously, is nearly absent from the book.) Polson explores what we find important about wilderness, though the book is more about people than about nature. After a breakup with a long-term boyfriend with whom she remains friendly, Polson rafts down the Hulahula with an estranged brother and his girlfriend.

In addition to the raft trip, the second major theme meditates on sections of Mozart's Requiem Mass in D (Kyria, Tuba Mirum, Offertorium, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Lacrymosa). Polson is part of the choir that will be performing this Mass under the direction of Izaak Perlman, providing some opportunities for religious reflection in the first year after Dad and Kathy's deaths. Despite this recurring note, this is the least religious book that I have ever seen from Zondervan (a religious press). Polson's faith is real, but only one part of her life, and just one theme in this book.

Polson writes beautifully and honestly. This book will appeal to those dealing with grief, those who love Alaska and wilderness more generally, some religious readers, and people who love well-written memoirs.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Niki Collins-queen, Author VINE VOICE on March 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Shannon Polson's powerful, eloquent memoir "North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey" is the deeply moving story about her search for meaning in the face of her parent's tragic, untimely death. Rich, her father and Kathy, her step-mother were killed in a rare grizzly attack while rafting the Hulahula River in Alaska's remote Arctic Wilderness in 2005.
Forced in the wilderness of grief Shannon leaves her home in Seattle to retrace Rich and Kathy's final days in a raft along the Arctic River with Ned her adopted brother and his work colleague Sally.
Shannon describes the three of them as a motley crew. Especially since she was going on a personally significant journey with Ned a person she had never been close to and Sally someone she didn't know.
Her poetic writing weaves together her painful internal landscape of grief with the exquisite yet harsh exterior landscape of the Arctic. Like her father, Shannon's deep appreciation for the untamed and remote wilderness of the Alaskan Arctic moves her story effortlessly between adventure, natural history, sacred pilgrimage, music, nature and faith.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Steph Tomte on April 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
North of Hope
A Memoir
Shannon Huffman Polson

I received an advance reading copy of "North of Hope" from Zondervan for free in exchange for a book review. Thanks Zondervan!

I had high expectations for this book, perhaps a little too high. What sounded like a story of an adventurous, soul healing journey, quickly turned into a story I simply skimmed to get to the interesting portions. Shannon's parents died a terrible death - mauled by a `tame' grizzly in the Alaskan wilderness. The shock and horror led to depression and void. Shannon decides to `reenact' the last journey her parents made with a friend and family member, not knowing why she needs to do this or what she will experience or encounter.

My assumption was that most of the story would be centered on Shannon's rafting wilderness rafting journey. Assumptions are usually wrong. Shannon details many events, feelings, and stories from her life before the tragedy and after. Her relationship with her father was very strong before his death and there is much pain and grief she needs to work through. Honestly, I did not find the backtracking and soul searching interesting or meaningful to read. Much of it is told without much direction. Shannon's faith is a part of the journey, but even the feelings and thoughts associated with that were not interesting to read. I would have liked more information about the journey, her faith, and God's healing hand.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mindi on April 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I appreciated her transparent stutterings toward grasping the experience which is so intensely personal and absolutely universal at the same time. I read sentence after sentence that struggled to explain, and felt like I was watching a replay of an accident on the news. You can't look away. They try to frame the incident differently. Get closer. Interview someone else. All framing the same moment, each a part and each a whole. The speech is not a mumbling, or even a stuttering but a fuller examination of critical aspects of her journey.

They were memories. They were casings. They were shrouds. They were straightjackets. They were vestments. They were relics. They were the certitude of each day of my life before June 25. They had housed expectations for my life. They were embraces.

My experiences read nothing like those of Polson's. Good writing, honest storytelling transcends the details that we use to separate ourselves. North of Hope is a story, and a tool. It is a link in a chain to help others move past the details of their grief and into the process of grieving.

My advice. Read carefully and remember the choice Polson presents...

It occurred to me then that I had a choice about what I'd been given: to grit my teeth and try to muscle through, or to try to train my wounded spirit to the possibility of wonder.

North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey
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