Raised in Ruins: A Memoir

Alaska Northwest. Apr. 2020. 272p. ISBN 9781513262635. pap. $16.99. MEMOIR
Freelance writer Neilson reflects upon her unconventional childhood in the remote Alaskan wilderness during the 1980s. Raised in a floathouse next to a burned-down cannery with her mother, father, and four siblings, the author describes an upbringing in which the realities and challenges of subsistence living coincided with memorable adventures and natural wonder. Using the vast wilderness as a backdrop to explore family relationships, the author writes about her Vietnam veteran father, a gifted craftsman who worked tirelessly to provide for his family but struggled to connect emotionally, and her mother, who imagined moving to Alaska her entire life but was fearful of the environment she long dreamed of. Neilson also relates the accidental and sudden death of her beloved uncle, writing with devastating frankness that it’s “incredibly easy for fishermen to lose their lives in Alaska,” where bad luck or bad weather can be fatal. Personal photographs seen in the advanced reader copy.
VERDICT An additional purchase for medium and large collections where wilderness memoirs are in high demand.
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