When a recent snowstorm shut down the library for a couple days it left me housebound with some unexpected time on my hands. So naturally I grabbed my iPad in search of some books for downloading to keep me occupied with a good read or two because certainly no vacuuming, dusting, mopping, or laundry needed to be done! Although my downloading frenzy provided several wonderful books, I chose this one by Heather Lende to share with you today.
Haines, Alaska, a small scenic town 60 miles north of Juneau, has been home to Lende and her husband all of their adult life and where they’ve raised five children. Entering or leaving this remote hamlet of 2,500 inhabitants is managed either via ferry which operates sporadically at best or an all-too-often nail-biting flight on a very, very small plane. Lende writes obituaries and a social column for the local newspaper and consequently knows and is known by practically everyone in the community. With humor and affection she paints an intimate portrait of her rural hometown. Her stories abound of its many colorful characters, and likewise the assorted events characteristic of small-town life, whether it’s the annual Christmas parade with a 23-foot smoke-spewing Snow dragon constructed from empty oil drums, divisive school board debates, or the overwhelming support from the townspeople to a family following the tragic sinking of their boat.
Lende’s writing embodies a relaxed simplicity I found refreshing. Her insightful narrative yields a powerful tribute to the people and home of which she so fondly writes.
If You Lived Here, I’d Know Your Name is available in hardcover and as an ebook. Can’t get enough tales from the 49th state? Then make Purely Alaska: Authentic Voices from the Far North or Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood, One Grown-up World, One Long Journey Home your next read.