Synopses & Reviews
The powerful and affirming story of a father’s journey with his teenage daughter to the far reaches of Alaska
Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, home to only a handful of people, is a harsh and lonely place. So when James Campbell’s cousin Heimo Korth asked him to spend a summer building a cabin in the rugged Interior, Campbell hesitated about inviting his fifteen-year-old daughter, Aidan, to join him: Would she be able to withstand clouds of mosquitoes, the threat of grizzlies, bathing in an ice-cold river, and hours of grueling labor peeling and hauling logs?
But once there, Aidan embraced the wild. She even agreed to return a few months later to help the Korths work their traplines and hunt for caribou and moose. Despite windchills of 50 degrees below zero, father and daughter ventured out daily to track, hunt, and trap. Under the supervision of Edna, Heimo’s Yupik Eskimo wife, Aidan grew more confident in the woods.
Campbell knew that in traditional Eskimo cultures, some daughters earned a rite of passage usually reserved for young men. So he decided to take Aidan back to Alaska one final time before she left home. It would be their third and most ambitious trip, backpacking over Alaska’s Brooks Range to the headwaters of the mighty Hulahula River, where they would assemble a folding canoe and paddle to the Arctic Ocean. The journey would test them, and their relationship, in one of the planet's most remote places: a land of wolves, musk oxen, Dall sheep, golden eagles, and polar bears.
At turns poignant and humorous, Braving It is an ode to America’s disappearing wilderness and a profound meditation on what it means for a child to grow up—and a parent to finally, fully let go.
"With humor and honesty, Campbell brings readers along for the adventure, which is full of swarms of hungry mosquitoes, the fear of grizzly bears, and the push-pull relationship between a teenage girl and her father… Campbell expertly blends facts on the flora, fauna, and general life in the Alaskan bush with his reflections on being middle-aged, with many adventurous years behind him, as opposed to his daughter, whose quest for adventure has only just begun. Informative, humorous, and full of a love of nature." Kirkus Reviews
"Campbell, through his descriptions and thoughtful reflection, brings to life the Arctic's great beauty, expanse and values as a wilderness and testing ground — a 'final frontier' for a certain kind of seeker… Braving It is a smart, insightful book that should be read by fathers and daughters everywhere — and by anyone who looks to wild country as 'part of the geography of hope.'" Alaska Dispatch News
"Campbell's prose captures both the difficulties and pleasures on offer in the extreme wild… Parents who enjoy Campbell’s adventures vicariously might find themselves contemplating their own family outing." Richmond Times Dispatch
"Braving It is a detailed portrayal of terrain so harsh it would give any seasoned outdoorsman pause, complete with grizzlies, brushes with hypothermia, and a growing bond that is honest, hard-earned, and touching." Men’s Journal
About the Author
James Campbell is the author of The Final Frontiersman and The Ghost Mountain Boys. He has written for Outside magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Men’s Journal, Audubon, and many other publications.