- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: Lyons Press (April 2, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0762784555
- ISBN-13: 978-0762784554
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 172 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,328,944 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Beyond the Bear: How I Learned to Live and Love Again after Being Blinded by a Bear Hardcover – April 2, 2013
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While fishing with a friend on a balmy July day in the Alaskan back country, Dan Bigley, a transplanted Californian and avowed nature enthusiast, was viciously mauled by a grizzly bear. After the bear bit into his face and eye sockets, leaving him permanently blind, the emergency technicians and trauma surgeons who treated Bigley expected the worst. Yet, as described in this inspiring first-person account of the heroic measures undertaken to save his life, Bigley not only survived but today is thriving, with a growing family and a budding career counseling emotionally disturbed children. Bigley, with the assistance of coauthor McKinney, unflinchingly recounts the horrific details of the mauling and its aftermath, from the multiple grueling surgeries needed to reconstruct his face to the tribulations involved in adapting to life as a blind person. Perhaps the most moving part of his story, however, is his relationship with Amber, the woman he fell for the night before the attack, who has remained steadfast despite his early attempts to let her go. A well-written and touching tribute to human resilience. --Carl Hays
“This book is surprising in so many ways - heartfelt, funny, buoyant, tragic and triumphant - that after awhile I wanted to do nothing else but read it and be inspired and enthralled. And so I was.”
—Kim Heacox, author of The Only Kayak and Visions of a Wild America
“Combine a man shaped by an extraordinary experience with a writer adept at weaving the threads of his story and the result is a stunningly powerful book. Beyond the Bear may compel you to worry less about all the bad things that could happen in life and focus instead on embracing its possibilities. You might as well buy extra copies for you will soon want to give others the gift of this insightful and riveting read.”
—Jill Fredston, author of Rowing to Latitude and Snowstruck
“Beyond the Bear delivers in gut-wrenching detail the harrowing account of one of the most horrific bear attacks in recent Alaskan memory, but the book is so much more than a bear mauling. Beyond the Bear is a powerful love story and an unforgettable tale of hope and resilience, a triumph of the human spirit in the darkest of hours. A life destroyed in a blinding flash of blood and fur. A bright and beautiful Alaskan landscape seemingly darkened forever, the midnight sun all but extinguished, yet Dan Bigley’s courage and heart take us all beyond the bear and along the way we all learn to see the world in a new and beautiful light.”
—Don Rearden, award-winning author of The Raven’s Gift
“Beyond the Bear is far more than another ‘bear chew’ book; it’s a compelling, finely crafted tale of survival and redemption, a worthy addition to Alaska literature.”
—Nick Jans, author of The Grizzly Maze and A Wolf Called Romeo
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Damn, if a guy who got his face mauled by a bear--and as a result went blind--can life a full life, there's no excuses for the rest of us.
"Life isn't too short to live in a straitjacket of misery, it's too long. ... The bear took my face and eyes, not my dignity, and not my ability to dream, and dream large."
"Bitterness...illuminated exactly the kind of man I did not want to be. Being angry at the world, or wallowing about in the quicksand of 'why me,' had the potential to ruin my life far more than being blinded by a bear."
"I'd be sunk without the ability to laugh at myself."
"The bear that blinded me gave me a new way to see."
"Despite what life throws at us...we have the power to rise above it....The bigger my life, the smaller my disability."
I suspect many readers will, like me, have our own bear stories. My maternal grandparents who never had electricity on their hill farm in northern Vermont until their many children gave them the half-mile or so of line needed as their 50th anniversary gift. And it is this grandfather, part native American, who killed a bear with a pitchfork once while pitching hay into a mound during haying season. And it was on this farm where my grandmother silently escorted me a couple of my cousins away from the wild raspberries where we had been picking. She had dropped her nearly full bucket onto the ground. I thought how strange as she whisper walk quickly but don't run back to the house. Only when we arrived did she tell us that a bear had been there and probably had been diverted by the welcoming sight of those hard-picked berries.
So in that context I entered the story of Dan Bigley as told by him and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist from Alaska, Debra McKinney. I shed tears often as I read this book. I have never been to Alaska and have never had a desire to do so. And this book hasn't convinced me to go although it is so clear that these authors love the place, love the landscape, the fishing, the people who live there, but maybe not so much the bears. Not any more.
Many others have written about the content of this great piece of writing. So I won't do so. But it is a really really excellent piece of writing with wonderful images of place and people. There are good reasons for all the five stars.
Having said that, someone in the publishing house should have done a better job proof-reading this great book because it is annoying to me to have a pen in hand while reading to make corrections. I made eleven. That's a lot in my opinion. So if you are a little fussy that way--and I admit I am--then be prepared to find yourself saying, "What?!"
More could be said, but read this book yourself and be blessed that Dan survived and Dan and Amber live happily ever after! What a wonderful gift!!
Our eyesight is truly a wonderful gift but even greater is the gift of love! Which shines forth in this book.
Dan Bigley is no exception. His courage in the face of devastating pain and loss is inspiring. He truly enjoys the beauty of nature in Alaska and is passionate about fishing even though that is where he met his fate with a bear. His stories about nature and fishing are just as enthralling as his battle to recover physically, spiritually and emotionally from a devastating attack and put his life back together.
Dealing with MRSA with my mother recently in the hospital, I could relate so much to his hospital stories. I also appreciated his gratefulness for those who saved his life.
I also loved the part about him getting his guide dog. Having worked with disabled people when they get their dogs, I was very in tune with every step of the process, not only for him but for the many people who take care of, raise and train the dog before he gets it.
Wonderful through and through.