Hope and fear. I believe I’ve discussed these emotions before in one of my reviews. Used in so much advertising, these two feelings are diametrically opposed to each other, yet can sway us stronger than any others. Leni’s life had been dominated by her parents’ hope that a change in setting or career could stifle her father Ernt’s pain. The pain he brought back with him from being a POW in the Vietnam war. Yet, the fear exists when that pain begins to bubble up to the surface and manifest itself into jealousy, guilt, and violence, mostly directed at his wife, Cora.
When an old army buddy passes, Ernt inherits a small cabin outside of a little hamlet across the bay from Homer, Alaska. Cora is reluctant to go, but agrees because she thinks it will help the family. So, in the spring of 1974, they drive to The Last Frontier in a newly acquired VW van. They find a tight-knit community that is not without its conflicts. Some are old homesteaders who have been there for generations, and others are recent escapees from the lower 48. There is a perceived pecking order derived from years in the bush and how far people are willing to go from civilization. There’s also the preppers, the ones who fled the political and social unrest and are now getting ready for whatever they think might break up the world.
The summer is spent preparing for the deadly winter. Ernst is tempermental, but has a purpose. Leni is getting to know the island, and has even met a boy. And Cora is trying to learn the Alaskan ways, but really just wants to hold the family together as best as she can. I don’t want to get too far into the plot, but I can tell you that there is tragedy and there is love. There are alliances made and broken. At the center of it is a man who both Leni and Cora radiate around in an effort to appease and soothe, but nothing they can do with hamper his rage.
A heartbreaking story of running to a mirage of healing, and a young woman who tries to wake her mother up. Yet, a complex love holds her tightly to her husband’s side. Leni’s life is pulled along until something happens that can’t be undone.