HEROES OF THE FRONTIER BY DAVE EGGERS

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What makes someone decide to leave everything and go to Alaska? With her two young children and $3,000 cash in a small cloth bag? In a rented RV that has seen better days?

Josie is a 40 year old dentist from Ohio who has just found out that the man she lived with and had two children with is getting married to someone else. Not her. He never wanted to marry her.  She’s tired of the drama of her life – and the pseudo-drama of the suburbs. She decides to leave her cellphone behind and take her children, eight year old Paul, and 5 year old Ana, on an adventure. She doesn’t want anyone to know where she is, especially her ex.

Josie has a stepsister of sorts who lives in Alaska and at first Sam is the North Star that she navigates the RV toward.

“Then there is happiness of one’s personal slum. The happiness of being alone, and tipsy on red wine, in the passenger seat of an ancient recreational vehicle parked somewhere in Alaska’s deep south, staring into a scribble of black trees, afraid to go to sleep for fear that at any moment someone will get past the toy lock on the RV door and murder you and your two small children sleeping above” From Heroes of the Last Frontier by Dave Eggers

Once Josie gets to Sam’s, she realizes that this wasn’t where she wanted to be and she takes off, driving through an Alaska of forest fires, breaking into abandoned cabins, riding a used bicycle down a campground trail while the owner of the campground watches her kids. Her parenting skills are a little quirky to say the least. But as they continue on their journey and have less and less, they learn to rely on themselves more and living becomes more about

The writing is beautiful, thoughtful, and intelligent. I found myself going back to reread paragraphs. This is a great pick for a book group. You could have some great discussions around our desire for the illusion of safety at all costs, and how much we have domesticated ourselves and numbed ourselves in order to function in our modern society.

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