Many thanks to Blackstone Publishing & Netgalley for the chance to read this memoir.
I was eager to check out this book because solitude and adventure go hand in hand for me and are both things I value tremendously in life. When this book was compared to Wild by Cheryl Strayed in the blurb, I knew I had to have it. I absolutely loved reading Cheryl’s story and discovering this subgenre of memoirs through her book.
All her life, Katherine Keith has hungered for remote, wild places that fill her soul with freedom and peace. Her travels take her across America, but it is in the vast and rugged landscape of Alaska that she finds her true home. Alaska is known as a place where people disappear–at least a couple thousand go missing each year. But the same vast and rugged landscape that contributed to so many people being lost is precisely what has gotten her found.
She and her husband build a log cabin miles away from the nearest road and create a life of love. An idyllic existence, but with isolation and brutal living conditions can also come heartbreak. Chopping wood and hauling water are not just parts of a Zen proverb but a requirement for survival. Keith experiences tragic loss and must push on, with her infant daughter, alone in the Alaskan backcountry.
Long-distance dog sledding opens a door to a new existence. Racing across the state of Alaska offers the best of all worlds by combining raw wilderness with solitude and athleticism. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the “Last Great Race on Earth,” remains a true test of character and offers the opportunity to intimately explore the frontier that she has come to love.
With every thousand miles of winter trail traversed in total solitude, she confronts challenges that awaken internal demons, summoning all the inner grief and rage that lies dormant. In the tradition of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild and John Krakauer’s Into the Wild, Epic Solitude is the powerful and touching story of how one woman found her way–both despite and because of–the difficulties of living and racing in the remote wilderness.
Overall, this was an incredibly interesting read and a story of a life well-lived, with much more living to do! I was surprised by the number of things Katherine had accomplished in her forty-some years and the amount of tragedy that has touched her life. She’s a true survivor!
I hate to judge someone’s honest life story in the form of star ratings, but unfortunately, it comes with the territory of being a book blogger. In many ways, I felt this story lacked the personal element I strongly desire from the memoirs I read. There was also a bit of a disjointed feel with the alternation between the past and future settings, making it difficult to sink into the author’s story. In some areas, I had to skim because the writing became philosophical rather than a true telling of events. The actual telling of experiences seemed to be glossed over and quickly mentioned, leaving me with numerous questions.
Nonetheless, I found Epic Solitude to be interesting and inspiring. It’s comparable to Wild, as Katherine did her own hiking of the Pacific Crest Trail before moving to Alaska, and her need for direction was relatable to Cheryl’s story. I also appreciated just how descriptive the author was in describing Alaska’s brutality. To many of us in the lower 48, Katherine’s experiences will seem completely foreign. I especially love learning about people who live their lives differently from the majority of society.
Pick up a copy of Epic Solitude on February 4th.
Rating: 3 stars