I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.
A quick little recap for you guys. This the true story of Stan Zuray. Living in Boston, he was searching for meaning in his life. While his friends were being shipped off to Vietnam and then returning with injuries, emotional and drug problems, Stan decided his future would be in Tozitna River Valley, Alaska. This book will show you what nature can throw at you: good and bad from grizzly bears and famine, to dog sledding and racing. This is an amazing journey of heart and soul.
This is a great book. I find it hard to rate and review non-fiction/memoirs, but I settled on 4 stars for this one. My deciding factor…The story really stuck with me. It’s been about a week since I put it down and I still think about it.
The book starts off with Stan’s situation in Boston where his life was not heading down a good path. If he continued he could have inevitably ended up in prison. With the draft for the war and all the problems that it brought and his unstable situation, he decided move north.
Alaska, this is where the story really starts to gain momentum. I live in Canada; it gets cold up here(tons of snow where I live). But, that is nothing compared to what Stan was able to overcome. There is a monumental difference between living up north and living off the land up north. I found it fascinating just learning how he built somewhere to live, and the logistics of it all: cutting down the trees, prepping them, stacking and securing them into his new home.
The physical requirements and knowledge of the land is very important, which is pretty much what I would have expected. What I didn’t know, was how easily it could all have been lost. One fire and they almost lost everything. One bad winter and they could have starved. One bad injury and it could have been over too. There is very little room for error.
As I watched the story come to life, I felt anxious just reading about his life. Stan was saved after a fire had burnt almost everything they owned. An army base nearby sent up a boat full of food. While this saved the day, it was still touch and go whether they were going to make it or not. When Stan was attacked by a grizzly, and was rushed to the closest town to seek medical attention, again I had no idea how that was going to turn out.
Over the years they seemed to get a little more comfortable, earning a small amount of money selling furs in town while continuing to living off the land. Then Stan decides to race in the Iditarod. This is race that is nearly 1000 miles, going from Anchorage to Nome. Due to extremely harsh weather conditions, “It would remain among the longest,toughest races in Iditarod history”. From start to finish it would take the racers from 16 to 26 days to complete. Stan came in 9th place and won Rookie of the Year. His race time was 16 days, 6 hours and 44 minutes. The endurance and perseverance of the dogs and mushers is worthy of a book all too itself.
Stan’s story is fascinating, amazing, interesting, and I think for everyone. You will learn something, and it’s just a great story.
Animals do get hurt in this book, it is not done with malice, it was just the way of life.
Have you guys read any non-fiction about living up north? Or any suggestions for me based off this one?