Best Alaska Memoir, Ever? Maybe.
This just in from Booklist- a starred review! I'm going to have a heart attack. Or dye the gray out of my hair. Actually, I'm cleaning for a library board potluck supper tonight at my house then going for a snowshoe. Booklist gave Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs a starred review. They declare it may be the best Alaska memoir, ever. Here's the whole thing:
*Starred Review* Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs: Family, Friends, and Faith in Small-Town Alaska. By Heather Lende.
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