Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pilgrim's Wilderness - Tom Kizzia

Pilgrim's Wilderness:
A True Story of Faith and Madness
on the Alaska Frontier
I like to break out of my own box every once in a while. This definitely qualifies as one of those books.

This narrative nonfiction book tells the story of the Hale family - or the Pilgrim family, depending on who you ask. The unique clan of nearly two dozen moved onto National Park land in Alaska in the early 2000s. They lived an abnormally conservative life, citing religious reasons. 

When the family moved to the secluded Alaskan wilderness, their few neighbors initially were impressed with the family. As the author, Tom Kizzia, writes, "The absence of teenaged restlessness among these bright and earnest offspring would strike many, on first meeting, as a healthy sign of what it must have been like to grow up within an oral tradition."

Things began to change when the family squared off with the government over park regulations. Father Pilgrim clearly didn't care about any rules set up by the government and became hostile quickly.

The story continues from there and, while you can do a quick online search to find out the ending of this true story, I don't want to give anything away for those of you who may be interested in reading the book. Part of the enjoyment for me was being completely unfamiliar with the story and genuinely not knowing how it was going to end. While the story seems to have been big news in Alaska, I'm not surprised it did not trickle down to the midwest. This is a story that those who love the the great outdoors and its clash with the modern world will love.

Kizzia also spent some time giving the history of the Hale family and how they came to be in Alaska and such a unique bunch. I though that Hale's early story, which involved multiple marriages and children with different women, hearkened back to Dean Moriarty in On the Road for me - and we all know how I felt about him. Not a fan.

The setting and story were both so far from my typical reading material, even among narrative nonfiction. I always enjoy looking into a completely different world like this. I can't say it necessarily sparked my interest for Alaskan wilderness stories or even cult-ish family stories, but it was an engaging, interesting book. Definitely one that I will keep in mind to recommend to others.

Pages: 336

Date Completed: September 22, 2014

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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