Midnight Sun, Arctic Moon: Mapping the Wild Heart of Alaska

Mary Albanese. Epicenter, $14.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-935347-17-0

Given her motto, “If at first you don’t succeed, try something that’s harder,” it is not surprising that Albanese’s journey from a farm in upstate New York to a new life in Alaska—spurred by a gut feeling and news of a teacher shortage there—was filled with great successes, disappointing failures, and heartrending losses. Spiked with wry humor, Albanese’s candid narrative is most effective when she pivots between accounts of surmounting handicaps (e.g., unfamiliarity with the extreme climate; being a woman in a male-dominated field) to horrifying tales of colleagues disappearing in the wilds, being mauled by bears, and falling off mountains. She ends on a bittersweet note, reflecting on her reasons for leaving Alaska, a place that once held seemingly endless opportunities for her. (May)