Monday, April 24, 2017

Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers

There are three unlikely heroes in Heroes of the Frontier by Dave Eggers.  Josie, an ex-dentist who is riddled with insecurity; Paul, her wise-beyond-his-years son; and Ana, her headstrong 5-year old daughter.  After Josie’s ex announces that he would like for their children to visit his future in-laws, Josie impulsively decides to pack them up, travel to Alaska, rent an RV, and then figure it out from there.  Josie thinks that she is running away from the possibility of losing her kids, but in reality, she is running away from unresolved demons in her own head.

The story is a fairly long one, and it meanders without a plot.  However, it reads very much like an adventure story, is full of many oddball characters, and contains humor.  One of the main characters is actually not a human at all, but is the RV (fondly named the Chateau) which comes to represent a source of stability and security to Josie and her family.  Each chapter finds them meeting new people, narrowly escaping certain disaster, avoiding rampant forest fires, and becoming closer as a family unit.

Sometimes I did get frustrated with how irresponsible Josie was.  Several times throughout the book, she led her young children into dangerous circumstances and seemed to let them wander off by themselves a lot.  I also wanted her to take control of situations, rather than react passively to events.  However, by the end of the book, I was very fond of this little family and it was hard not to root for their survival.  I think having Josie possess a few undesirable traits allows the reader to recognize her state of mind at the time, and to understand how desperate she felt.

Other books by Dave Eggers are A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and The Circle.

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