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“North of Hope” by Shannon Huffam Polson, is a book about grief set in the Pacific Northwest. It tells the story of Shannon’s rafting journey in Alaska, roughly one year after her father and step-mother were killed by a bear along the same route.
Right off the bat the plot-line should tell you that this isn’t exactly a “fun” read. But I was hoping it would be enlightening.
On that count, it was and it wasn’t.
My main issue with this memoir is that Shannon herself comes across as very self-absorbed and self-righteous. I feel bad even saying that, because I’m sure that in real life that isn’t true one bit!
But the story line implied that Shannon’s way of grieving was the right way of grieving, that nobody else in her entire family could possibly be hurting as much as she was hurting, and that the only glimmer of happiness Shannon felt all year was when other people acknowledged her severe grief.
For example, she flips out when somebody suggests taking a picture at her father’s funeral. There is a HUGE amount of judgment in this scene, even though in many families, it is perfectly okay to take pictures at funerals, and is in fact encouraged; especially if relatives are traveling long distances (like to Alaska!) and rarely see one another. But the author never seems to consider other people’s point of view.
Everyone grieves in different ways. I don’t think one way of grieving is better or worse than another. I kept waiting and waiting for Shannon to come to this realization too in this book, but she never did. That’s what made her come across as unlikeable. Her view seems to be the only view she considers worth exploring.
I’m sure in real life, none of that is true, and that Shannon Polson is a perfectly lovely person to be around. So I’m guessing that she was trying to make the point that grief and depression can really change your personality.
P.S: I received a copy of “North of Hope” from Booksneeze, in exchange for my honest opinion and review.