From Publishers Weekly
Shortly after the publication of her first series of dispatches from "Small-Town Alaska," If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name, obituary writer and Anchorage Daily News columnist Lende got run over by a truck: "The back tire of the new king-cab, three-quarter ton Chevy pickup rolled right over my lap." In this collection of mordant but largely uplifting pieces, Lende recalls that near-fatal bicycle accident, and her slow return to health with the help of doctors, therapists, family, and friends. While considering the big questions of life and death, Lende introduces an eclectic cast of characters from a town of just 2,400, including Wilma Henderson, a "formidable farmwife and Presbyterian elder" who believes in "praying with your feet"; and Fireman Al, officially the volunteer fire department's training officer, but also the guy who responds to nearly every ambulance call. Though Lende indulges occasionally in mindless tangents, her charming style will keep readers attuned to her celebration of love, faith, and healing in a far-flung, tight-knit community.
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*Starred Review* While biking downtown, daydreaming about her upcoming tour for If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name (2005), Lende was hit by a truck. Literally. It ran over her torso. So no tour, but the makings of another book, which moves as far beyond the clichés of the hurt-but-heroic personal-triumph genre as Lende’s town, Haines, Alaska, is from . . . well, even Juneau and Anchorage, to say nothing of the world outside. What distinguishes it is Lende’s relationship with her community and her faith, both of which present challenges as well as comforts. Small town Alaskan life ain’t easy. Far too many are lost to alcoholism, weather, violence, and accidents at sea and in the wild. Lende should know: she writes the local paper’s obits. Friendships, family, and natural beauty sustain her and other survivors. As for her faith, it isn’t always easy, either. So few meet in her Episcopal congregation’s borrowed quarters that they have an unpaid vicar rather than a priest. God doesn’t always seem to answer; why, for instance, does Lende’s beloved mother go down to death still fighting, while an Alaskan friend passes away in beatific calm? Sometimes her moral compass seems to roll around rather than point north. Lende writes emotionally but never sentimentally, giving us the best Alaska memoir of late, maybe the best ever. --Patricia Monaghan