Sunday, March 31, 2013

Book Review: Finding Hope in Despair

Handlebar Publishing in conjunction with Zondervan provided a complimentary book, North of Hope: A Daughter's Arctic Journey, in exchange for an honest review.
     Grief of any kind can lead us down a path of uncertainty. We look for the why, the purpose in the face of such loss. But, when tragedy strikes and the loss is compounded everything we hold dear to mixes into a matrix of confusion. Death stops us in our tracks. How does one stare grief down with courage and begin to live again? Where does hope intersect grief?
     Author Shannon Huffman Polson answered that call to search for answers and courageously shares her journey when her life seemed to shatter. In June 2005 Polson received a phone call shaking to her core: her dad, Richard, and stepmother, Kathy, had been killed by a grizzly bear as they camped along the Hulahula River. Raised in Alaska Polson understood nature's dichotomy of its inherent beauty and wild nature. However, she never fathomed the brutality the arctic landscape could claim.
      The loss of her beloved parents leads Polson to embark on the same journey down the Hulahula that stole her family one year later. Through adventure, beauty and sadness she finds life amongst her tears and questions.  There are some answers that will never be known, but other questions were answered in ways she didn't expect. It would be an understatement to say this was a trip of a lifetime. Many never have to face such harrowing circumstances.
    Any reader would be blessed to steal a glimpse of this woman's experience. I was completely mesmerized with Polson's beautiful eloquence. She is a master at her craft to overlay elegance on top of wild grief. Yet, the harshness of the Arctic is tangible. Her heartache bores into the reader. There has never been an author I have admired more in a memoir. The author lends words to the heart that are often difficult to put words to.
     Even if grief isn't rending your heart, North of Hope will capture yours in a beat. This memoir will engage your emotions that many books simply cannot do. It can encourage the grief-stricken to look forward and up at the horizon and see hope is there. Rainbows will be seen in the storms. Hope is what will walk you through the valley. Polson captures much of the human experience in 252 pages. I found bits of myself reflected throughout. It is validating to share in someone's journey and come to understand something more of myself. I cannot recommend North of Hope enough, nor capture its soul in a review. It is beautiful book of the heart.

Check out Shannon's website here.


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