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Raise your hand if you wish that you were outdoorsy, but are actually the farthest thing from it? I feel like the internet people are my people- and I'm pretty sure many of us feel this way. Hand down- back to interneting - it isn't that I don't want to be outside, it's just not my natural inclination. Being in the outdoors definitely takes some effort- kind of like extroverting. But every now and then I will read a book and it'll make me want to close my computer, or book, lace up my shoes, and at the very least go for a long walk outside. The last book I read, "Braving It" by James Campbell- was definitely one of those for me! I think a reviewer for the Wallstreet Journal did an excellent job describing this feeling when they said--- "One of the reasons we read books like Braving It [is] to experience what we may never have the particular courage to and share the terror and thrills of those who do…."
Summary from goodreads.com
Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, home to only a handful of people, is a harsh and lonely place. So when James Campbell’s cousin Heimo Korth asked him to spend a summer building a cabin in the rugged Interior, Campbell hesitated about inviting his fifteen-year-old daughter, Aidan, to join him: Would she be able to withstand clouds of mosquitoes, the threat of grizzlies, bathing in an ice-cold river, and hours of grueling labor peeling and hauling logs?
But once there, Aidan embraced the wild. She even agreed to return a few months later to help the Korths work their traplines and hunt for caribou and moose. Despite windchills of 50 degrees below zero, father and daughter ventured out daily to track, hunt, and trap. Under the supervision of Edna, Heimo’s Yupik Eskimo wife, Aidan grew more confident in the woods.
Campbell knew that in traditional Eskimo cultures, some daughters earned a rite of passage usually reserved for young men. So he decided to take Aidan back to Alaska one final time before she left home. It would be their third and most ambitious trip, backpacking over Alaska’s Brooks Range to the headwaters of the mighty Hulahula River, where they would assemble a folding canoe and paddle to the Arctic Ocean. The journey would test them, and their relationship, in one of the planet’s most remote places: a land of wolves, musk oxen, Dall sheep, golden eagles, and polar bears.
At turns poignant and humorous, Braving It is an ode to America’s disappearing wilderness and a profound meditation on what it means for a child to grow up—and a parent to finally, fully let go.
Things I Liked
Holy adventure! I truly admire the individuals in this book! James and his daughter, Aiden, are so brave and have such a desire to seek out adventure. I loved reading about their time in the Alaskan bush and their trip down the Hulahula river. I also really enjoyed reading about the preparation and training that went into the trips. Packing, mapping, and training were important parts of the Campbell's success out in the wild.
I was absolutely shocked at the risks that they took in their adventures. The author is very frank about how dangerous their travels were and why. They explored a deep fear of mine in the book- being secluded and in need of medical attention. In the Alaskan bush, you are surrounded by danger - the tools necessary to build shelter, wild animals, and the extreme cold. But you are also in danger from your own health as well. In such a secluded location, something that could be easily remedied on the mainland - can become a dire emergency. I was surprised by the risks that they took, particularly those regarding their health. They definitely put everything on the line to experience the awe inspiring nature of the Arctic.
I love the storytelling abilities of the author. I felt like I was at a family dinner or drinking coffee and hearing about their exciting adventures. Much of the book is incredibly exciting and as a reader I felt very "in the moment", but the book also has a great deal of perspective. I loved reading about the interpersonal struggles and bonding between father and daughter on their adventures, as well.
Things I Didn't Like
I don't really have anything that stands out as a didn't like, so much as a, "I wish that". A lot of the story revolves around Campbell's daughter. While we were able to see glimpses into her point of view through her father, I would've loved to have read a chapter or two that she wrote about the adventure. Aiden acted as a catalyst to the trips and even completed some portions of the Alaskan trip that her father couldn't. It would've been really interesting to have heard about their adventures from her perspective.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading "Braving It" and definitely recommend it. Click on the link below to find a copy at your local library.
Many thanks to Blogging for Books for providing me with a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review. As a girl who is "about the library" where books are always free, you can be confident that the opinions expressed are my own.