Let me start off by saying that if I owned this book, I would have spent more time underlining the parts that really jumped off the page and enriched my understanding of the connectivity that we can achieve as human beings. Heather Lende is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, gardener and active community member that I could relate with on so many levels. This book caught my eye as I strolled hesitantly past the adult shelves in the library, on my way to accompany my son to his Lego Club meeting a few weeks ago. I snatched it, almost as an after-thought, because leisurely reading just has not been at the top of my attainable goals so far this year. I'm so glad I made the time for this one. And I nibbled on it, in small bits over the course of about three weeks. I have had Alaska in my line-up of travel destinations for a long time, now, so the fact that this memoir takes place in the middle of what feels like an Alaskan adventure is just frosting.
Heather's reflections begin about the time that she becomes the victim of a tragic accident, and her thoughtfulness as she intertwines her life experiences with the narrative of "life's bad breaks and unexpected gifts" offers perspective that I have been honing of late. Her statement "you can't have real joy if you don't understand what real sorrow is" speaks volumes about the caliber of her irrepressible spirit, her commitment to living life to the fullest and the art that she creates of the mending process. She is funny and pensive. She has a gift for seeing and bringing out the best in the relationships she forms with her Alaskan neighbors. Her bear-hunting story and the account of how she dealt with her neighbor's chicken-killing dogs made me laugh out loud. ("I know chickens are not the most intelligent of creatures, but my hens have been raised to believe the world is good and that they are loved.") She is real. Her exposure with death and dying, serious illnesses and the fragility of human emotion brings the reader right to the bedside of her experiences.
I hope, if you read this, you'll enjoy it as much as I did.