In the High Peaks

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Winds of Skilak--A Memoir of Life on a Wild Alaskan Island

I simply *adored* this memoir of a young couple in the early 1980s who choose to homestead on a supposedly uninhabitable island, surrounded by the moodiest, most tempestuous lake you will ever meet in literature. This is an adventure memoir, and the thrills are sustained throughout. Because of the location, downwind from an enormous glacier, the island and lake are subject to the most horrific weather.

I hated turning to the last page. The memoir covers their first two and a half years on the island, and they lived there 15 years. I was so enthralled--the wilderness, the hardships, the challenges and the surmounting of obstacles, the wildlife, making a living from the land--all breathtaking.

The Kindle and Nook price are only $5.99, though the paperback is nearly $19. If you have an iPad, or an e-reader that does color, there are wonderful color photos scattered throughout the book.

The author Bonnie Rose Ward was 25 years old at the beginning of their adventure, and her husband Sam was 36. My only so-called "warning," and to me it wasn't a problem, is that she is a very traditional wife and he a very traditional husband. A love and faith in God is mentioned in nearly every chapter. But this is not a Christian memoir, to my mind. It's a fascinating view of life on the wild side.

This title has received multiple awards. Unfortunately I took a peek at some GoodReads reviews. Most were highly favorable, but two reviewers complained that Bonnie was "too weepy" to be a "wilderness woman." I was aghast. Obviously these reviewers have never ever been in true wilderness to know the challenges, emotional and physical.

I have been so inspired by this book. Fortunately, Ward is in the midst of writing her second book. Okay, I say, Godspeed!


  1. This does sound interesting and inspiring, and I would never survive in an area so cold and forbidding. Very amazing. My husband likes stories of cold climates. And bad weather.

    1. When I read this memoir, I realized how hungry I've been for a good northern wilderness adventure. This fit the bill, but you may notice that I'll read at least one more this year.