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Son of a Midnight Land: A Memoir in Stories

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Atz Kilcher learned many vital skills while helping his parents carve a homestead out of the Alaskan wilderness: how to work hard, think on his feet, make do, invent, and use what was on hand to accomplish whatever task was in front of him. He also learned how to lie in order to please his often volatile father and put himself in harm's way to protect his mother and younge Atz Kilcher learned many vital skills while helping his parents carve a homestead out of the Alaskan wilderness: how to work hard, think on his feet, make do, invent, and use what was on hand to accomplish whatever task was in front of him. He also learned how to lie in order to please his often volatile father and put himself in harm's way to protect his mother and younger, weaker members of the family. Much later in life, as Atz began to reflect on his upbringing, seek to understand his father, and heal his emotional scars, he discovered that the work of pioneering the frontier of the soul is an infinitely more difficult task than any of the back-breaking chores he performed on his family's homestead. Learning to use new tools--honesty, vulnerability, forgiveness, acceptance--and building upon the good helped him heal and learn to embrace the value of resilience. This revised perspective has enabled him to tell an enhanced and more positive version of the legacy his father created and has him doing the most rewarding work of his life: mapping his own inner wilderness while drawing closer to his adult children, the next stewards of the land he helped his father carve out of the Alaskan frontier.


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Atz Kilcher learned many vital skills while helping his parents carve a homestead out of the Alaskan wilderness: how to work hard, think on his feet, make do, invent, and use what was on hand to accomplish whatever task was in front of him. He also learned how to lie in order to please his often volatile father and put himself in harm's way to protect his mother and younge Atz Kilcher learned many vital skills while helping his parents carve a homestead out of the Alaskan wilderness: how to work hard, think on his feet, make do, invent, and use what was on hand to accomplish whatever task was in front of him. He also learned how to lie in order to please his often volatile father and put himself in harm's way to protect his mother and younger, weaker members of the family. Much later in life, as Atz began to reflect on his upbringing, seek to understand his father, and heal his emotional scars, he discovered that the work of pioneering the frontier of the soul is an infinitely more difficult task than any of the back-breaking chores he performed on his family's homestead. Learning to use new tools--honesty, vulnerability, forgiveness, acceptance--and building upon the good helped him heal and learn to embrace the value of resilience. This revised perspective has enabled him to tell an enhanced and more positive version of the legacy his father created and has him doing the most rewarding work of his life: mapping his own inner wilderness while drawing closer to his adult children, the next stewards of the land he helped his father carve out of the Alaskan frontier.

30 review for Son of a Midnight Land: A Memoir in Stories

  1. 4 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    Having watched some of the TV shows about the Alaska homesteaders, I figured I would enjoy reading this book written by one of them. It was somewhat different than I expected but still very much a real and worthwhile read. The author freely admits he grew up learning early on to lie to avoid conflict and punishment from his volatile and easily angered father. He was one of eight children growing up on a 700-acre homestead in Homer, Alaska in very challenging circumstances. In his book he examine Having watched some of the TV shows about the Alaska homesteaders, I figured I would enjoy reading this book written by one of them. It was somewhat different than I expected but still very much a real and worthwhile read. The author freely admits he grew up learning early on to lie to avoid conflict and punishment from his volatile and easily angered father. He was one of eight children growing up on a 700-acre homestead in Homer, Alaska in very challenging circumstances. In his book he examines his life growing up a homesteader, the many advantages, and what he felt the disadvantages were. He feels that his early years gave him all of the tools to fix any disadvantages there were and that any complaining he'd done earlier in his life had been misplaced blaming. Liked it overall. An advance digital copy was provided by NetGalley, author Atz Kilcher, and Blackstone Publishing, for my review. Expected date of publication is Feb. 6, 2018

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alison

    This was a very informational read for me as I watch the reality show, Alaska: The Last Frontier. Atz the son, of Yule and Ruth Kilcher who emigrated from Switzerland to Alaska in the late 1940s to start a homestead near Homer Alaska, they had eight children in all, Atz being the eldest son. It was interesting to hear more about his time growing up, and how he was a pretty messed up kid getting into a lot of trouble. A lot of this behavior, was due to the fact that he had a not so great relationsh This was a very informational read for me as I watch the reality show, Alaska: The Last Frontier. Atz the son, of Yule and Ruth Kilcher who emigrated from Switzerland to Alaska in the late 1940s to start a homestead near Homer Alaska, they had eight children in all, Atz being the eldest son. It was interesting to hear more about his time growing up, and how he was a pretty messed up kid getting into a lot of trouble. A lot of this behavior, was due to the fact that he had a not so great relationship with his father Yule, who was always very hard on him and often belittling him during his formative years. This was something that the father passed on to Atz, who later treated his kids the same way, until he finally saw what he was doing and has slowly been trying to change his ways. This book, shows us the changes he has gone through over the years, trying to overcome a lot of history from his youth. It is an act of asking for forgiveness and learning from his mistakes and also of the love for his family and for the area he lives in. Atz has had a very full life, from his love of animals, love of skiing, to becoming a teacher, A therapist, a singer and artist and on and on.. this book has a lot of interesting information, not only about him but about his relationships with extended family. I would like to thank NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for the ARC of this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    I met Mr. Kilcher in April at the Public Library Association annual conference - such a nice, kind, funny man. This memoir, read by him as an audio book, was thoroughly interesting. Fascinating and unsettling by turns, as he was brutally honest about his childhood and his own failings as a young man and as a parent. I absolutely enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael J. Walters

    Atz seems to have been a real douche most of his life but over time he has gotten better... LOL!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mandy

    I sometimes watch the reality show Alaska: the Last Frontier and enjoy watching how this family of homesteaders live and interact. This personal memoir by Atz Kilcher answers a lot of unanswered questions and fills in a lot of background – and also destroys a lot of the romance. Life has not always been good on the homestead and the apparently happy and united families who share their lives there have many more stories to tell than are featured on the programme. I’m not sure that I actually enjo I sometimes watch the reality show Alaska: the Last Frontier and enjoy watching how this family of homesteaders live and interact. This personal memoir by Atz Kilcher answers a lot of unanswered questions and fills in a lot of background – and also destroys a lot of the romance. Life has not always been good on the homestead and the apparently happy and united families who share their lives there have many more stories to tell than are featured on the programme. I’m not sure that I actually enjoyed this book, as Atz Kilcher doesn’t come across as the nicest of people, but I certainly enjoyed finding out about him and his life, and I’ve certainly gained a deeper understanding of what life is really like on the homestead and for those who choose to live this sort of life. Essential reading for anyone interested in the family and their show.

  6. 4 out of 5

    James

    Wow! Never would've expected such a book from Atz Kilcher! Granted I only watched most of the the first season of Alaska the Wild Frontier, so I only had that to go on. Don't expect a biography about homesteading as much as it is a memoir about the emotional travails he experienced growing up with a fairly abusive father in an unforgiving land. But most importantly is how he worked through these dysfunctions to become a better person much later in his life. Atz's father Yule seems to come from a Wow! Never would've expected such a book from Atz Kilcher! Granted I only watched most of the the first season of Alaska the Wild Frontier, so I only had that to go on. Don't expect a biography about homesteading as much as it is a memoir about the emotional travails he experienced growing up with a fairly abusive father in an unforgiving land. But most importantly is how he worked through these dysfunctions to become a better person much later in his life. Atz's father Yule seems to come from a generation of Stoics that rarely knew how to express their feelings. My father having some of Yule's qualities as well as other members of my family. So there was a lot in this book that hit home for me. I have nothing but mad respect for Atz. Highly recommend this book especially if you like the TV show and what to get a closer glimpse of that life.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susan Snodgrass

    My husband and I enjoy Alaska: The Last Frontier, so I thought this book would be very interesting. I was a bit wrong on that count. I had my ideas of how the family lived from listening to the folks talk on the program, but Atz Lee describes a somewhat different family. I guess there is dysfunction in all families. He was a rounder in his youth, but seems to have it all sorted out. I just did not care for this very much. I still like the show, though. *I was given a preview copy of this book fro My husband and I enjoy Alaska: The Last Frontier, so I thought this book would be very interesting. I was a bit wrong on that count. I had my ideas of how the family lived from listening to the folks talk on the program, but Atz Lee describes a somewhat different family. I guess there is dysfunction in all families. He was a rounder in his youth, but seems to have it all sorted out. I just did not care for this very much. I still like the show, though. *I was given a preview copy of this book from Net Galley.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    Son of A Midnight Land was a difficult read for me. I found parts of it disturbing. After reading this book I find myself pondering several things. I am thinking about nature versus nature, especially in a case where both nature and nurture are often hostile. I am thinking about how our childhood experiences influence the adults we later become, and I am thinking how people accept responsibility for their actions, rather than blame others, at different ages. I wonder how some people seem to shak Son of A Midnight Land was a difficult read for me. I found parts of it disturbing. After reading this book I find myself pondering several things. I am thinking about nature versus nature, especially in a case where both nature and nurture are often hostile. I am thinking about how our childhood experiences influence the adults we later become, and I am thinking how people accept responsibility for their actions, rather than blame others, at different ages. I wonder how some people seem to shake off their less than ideal upbringings and others get caught in the same destructive behaviors they despised/feared as children. This book gave me lots to think about, which is usually a sign that I like a book, but I don't know if I will ever decide if I "liked" Son of A Midnight Land or not. One thing is certain - I will never watch Alaska: The Last Frontier through the same lens after reading it. I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. (less) flagcomment · see review

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sam Jackson

    Wow. This book was so much different than I expected it to be! Rather than just stories of life on the homestead, this book turned those stories into powerful and meaningful looks at life, family relationships, and fatherhood. Both joyous and solemn in equal parts, the narrative that Atz has crafted leads the reader through his life in an unique way. The imperfections of any life are challenging to talk about and Atz takes all of his by the horns to tell his story of learning, acceptance, change Wow. This book was so much different than I expected it to be! Rather than just stories of life on the homestead, this book turned those stories into powerful and meaningful looks at life, family relationships, and fatherhood. Both joyous and solemn in equal parts, the narrative that Atz has crafted leads the reader through his life in an unique way. The imperfections of any life are challenging to talk about and Atz takes all of his by the horns to tell his story of learning, acceptance, change, and redemption. It is definitely a book that I will read again and again.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vintage274

    If the author's intent was to exorcise the ghosts of his dysfunctional family and emotionally challenged parents, then he succeeded. I, however, was interested in learning more about life in homesteading Alaska. I only read as far as the author's blunt retelling of being left on the homestead for the winter as a teen, allowing animals to die, and then lying about it to his father. Disgusting and related with all the self awareness of a sociopath. Definitely not the book for me. I was provided a If the author's intent was to exorcise the ghosts of his dysfunctional family and emotionally challenged parents, then he succeeded. I, however, was interested in learning more about life in homesteading Alaska. I only read as far as the author's blunt retelling of being left on the homestead for the winter as a teen, allowing animals to die, and then lying about it to his father. Disgusting and related with all the self awareness of a sociopath. Definitely not the book for me. I was provided a galley copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tammy

    There is a LOT the TV show doesn't tell us. There is a LOT the TV show doesn't tell us.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    First published on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Son of a Midnight Land is a very personal memoir by Atz Kilcher due to release in February 2018 from Blackstone Publishing. At 330 pages, it's a substantial book. It's written in a no nonsense gritty unapologetic voice which does not gloss over or minimize his life and upbringing. Kilcher grew up on a homestead with an often absent, authoritarian and intermittently abusive father and a depressed mother. Life on a smallholding near the arctic circle was f First published on my blog: Nonstop Reader. Son of a Midnight Land is a very personal memoir by Atz Kilcher due to release in February 2018 from Blackstone Publishing. At 330 pages, it's a substantial book. It's written in a no nonsense gritty unapologetic voice which does not gloss over or minimize his life and upbringing. Kilcher grew up on a homestead with an often absent, authoritarian and intermittently abusive father and a depressed mother. Life on a smallholding near the arctic circle was fraught and difficult. It didn't help that young Kilcher wasn't interested in, or capable of, the responsibilities thrust on him. He was a very angry young man. I very nearly stopped reading this book after about 6% when he describes the circumstances and fallout from being alone on their homestead with sole responsibility for the animals under their care. I kept reading with the hope that there would be a message of healing or redemption or regret or growth or something in the later parts of the book There was a message of growth and understanding, but I'm not 100% convinced the often self-inflicted pain of his journey was worth the message for me personally. It's a brutally honest book. The author says, "The events described in this book are as true as I can remember. If any omissions or errors were made in the telling, they were unintentional, and not meant to harm or defame anyone mentioned". The writing is very direct and unflinching and explodes a lot of the romantic notions most people have of 'getting away from it all' and 'living on the land'. I would recommend this book as background reading for people contemplating a move to a smallholding lifestyle. It would also be good for background info for people who follow the Discovery series Alaska: The Final Frontier about the author and his family. Three stars, and a very difficult read (and I live on a smallholding surrounded by wildlife, though I have a day job in the city). Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Diana Caraza-Bauman

    Being a fangirl of Alaska the Last Frontier, I was eager to read Atz Kilcher's memoir. I have mixed feelings about his written work. I've read Jewel's memoir and was familiar with her challenging relationship she's had with her father so I suppose this was his heartfelt response. I felt his memoir was vulnerable, raw, yet prideful. He writes about the difficult relationship he's had with his father whom left his life in Switzerland with his family to start a new life abroad, living off the land Being a fangirl of Alaska the Last Frontier, I was eager to read Atz Kilcher's memoir. I have mixed feelings about his written work. I've read Jewel's memoir and was familiar with her challenging relationship she's had with her father so I suppose this was his heartfelt response. I felt his memoir was vulnerable, raw, yet prideful. He writes about the difficult relationship he's had with his father whom left his life in Switzerland with his family to start a new life abroad, living off the land in Alaska. I can understand how difficult this must have been for the entire family as they left a life filled in culture to one filled in isolation and very hard work. The memoir was mostly about this challenging relationship he's had with his father which inevitably resulted in him acting out in his youth, following the angry and hurtful patterns of his father with his own family, and, unfortunately, ending up with four failed marriages. I noticed that he never did get caught in acting out, something he recognized and shared a few times. That tells me he had a father whom he did respect and honor despite the troubled relationship. I wish the memoir would have been more about his life on a homestead. Well, there's always Alaska the Last Frontier.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I've always enjoyed the reality series "Alaska: The Last Frontier." it's heartening to watch the close bonding among three generations of the Kilcher family as they live off the land. I opened this book and reminded myself that just because Atz Kilcher was the highly engaging patriarch of this homesteading family, it didn't mean he was a great writer. Let's face it. How many reality TV stars would be? I was prepared to lay the book down, unfinished. THAT never happened! It turns out that Atz Kil I've always enjoyed the reality series "Alaska: The Last Frontier." it's heartening to watch the close bonding among three generations of the Kilcher family as they live off the land. I opened this book and reminded myself that just because Atz Kilcher was the highly engaging patriarch of this homesteading family, it didn't mean he was a great writer. Let's face it. How many reality TV stars would be? I was prepared to lay the book down, unfinished. THAT never happened! It turns out that Atz Kilcher is a highly educated man with master degrees in social work and psychology who worked with troubled kids and taught music to elementary school children. He is a Vietnam war veteran and ex-husband of four wives. The person you see on the TV show is the end result of years of homesteading, studying,adventures, therapy, learning and most important of all, a childhood that was completely the opposite of what his grandchildren now experience on the Kilcher homestead. You don't even need to watch the show to read the book or know anything about the Kilchers. This book stands alone as one man's story of his life and what he has learned. It's a page turner.

  15. 5 out of 5

    David H. Schurr

    Gripping read My wife & I enjoy the show featuring the Kilchers quite a bit. I always thought that Atz and Otto were both pretty short tempered but also were very big on "family". I had also heard of a somewhat strained relationship between Atz and daughter Jewel. This book straightens out everything you ever wondered about who Atz is. Good for Atz to see the errors of his early life ways and works to change them. Impressive man. Hard life in Alaska as a homestead family. My hat goes off to you a Gripping read My wife & I enjoy the show featuring the Kilchers quite a bit. I always thought that Atz and Otto were both pretty short tempered but also were very big on "family". I had also heard of a somewhat strained relationship between Atz and daughter Jewel. This book straightens out everything you ever wondered about who Atz is. Good for Atz to see the errors of his early life ways and works to change them. Impressive man. Hard life in Alaska as a homestead family. My hat goes off to you all. This book should keep your eyes busy and your mind for a few hours. Highly recommended read.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jamaya

    What a well done and entertaining book. Atz is a great story teller. I enjoyed getting to know his parents better through these stories. What a hard life, but wonderful life they chose to live coming to Alaska. Some parts brought me to tears when I could identify as a child and as a parents with how Atz felt. His last chapter was my favorite. What a sweet bond between he and Kase. I am happy I was on that homestead that week when Kase and Jewel were visiting. And saw firsthand what a sweet Opa A What a well done and entertaining book. Atz is a great story teller. I enjoyed getting to know his parents better through these stories. What a hard life, but wonderful life they chose to live coming to Alaska. Some parts brought me to tears when I could identify as a child and as a parents with how Atz felt. His last chapter was my favorite. What a sweet bond between he and Kase. I am happy I was on that homestead that week when Kase and Jewel were visiting. And saw firsthand what a sweet Opa Atz was and he was so excited to be babysitting. Thanks Atz for a lovely book on your life and homesteading in Alaska.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Wow! This book... I love it so much because I know a lot about what Atz is talking about having mirrored some of the parts myself. It felt so healing to me to read myself from someone else. Healing to my soul. It made me cry many times and I didn't want it to end. I wanted to keep building with Atz, just as he is helping build Townesville. Thank you for your honesty Atz that spilled through the soul building pages of this book. I see you. Namaste Brother. Thank YOU for the elasticity of your soul Wow! This book... I love it so much because I know a lot about what Atz is talking about having mirrored some of the parts myself. It felt so healing to me to read myself from someone else. Healing to my soul. It made me cry many times and I didn't want it to end. I wanted to keep building with Atz, just as he is helping build Townesville. Thank you for your honesty Atz that spilled through the soul building pages of this book. I see you. Namaste Brother. Thank YOU for the elasticity of your soul Atz

  18. 5 out of 5

    Laura Ellis

    Insightful read Transported to the life a time forgotten and the hardships that had to be endured to survive. Inner struggles that surfaced along the way as dreams are lost and realized. Finding healing in everything as one grows and learns not only about who they are but why they are

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nat

    As a fan of the show, "Alaska: The Last Frontier," I appreciate the hard work and ingenuity it takes to homestead. While the author does give some details about the homestead life, his focus is mostly on how he overcame an abusive childhood and his struggles with his own demons of anger and impatience. As a fan of the show, "Alaska: The Last Frontier," I appreciate the hard work and ingenuity it takes to homestead. While the author does give some details about the homestead life, his focus is mostly on how he overcame an abusive childhood and his struggles with his own demons of anger and impatience.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    I thoroughly enjoyed this true story. It was completely relatable and many ways coming from a family background that was some what similar. I laughed, I cried, and I was deeply moved. It’s a deep and touching story about overcoming the odds. It took some true guts to write a story so vulnerable. 5 stars!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Cranberryfries

    I stumbled across this book and HAD to read it. My inlaws are friends with Atz and I once got to meet him when he was traveling through Idaho. It's totally a distant connection but I was intrigued. This memoir is raw, brutal and unforgiving. In the stories. I'm the revelations. I stumbled across this book and HAD to read it. My inlaws are friends with Atz and I once got to meet him when he was traveling through Idaho. It's totally a distant connection but I was intrigued. This memoir is raw, brutal and unforgiving. In the stories. I'm the revelations.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Smith

    Whew. What a read. This book is sometimes a bit difficult to get through, but it's a perspective you don't often see, and I think it took quite a bit of bravery to show. It will really give you food for thought. Whew. What a read. This book is sometimes a bit difficult to get through, but it's a perspective you don't often see, and I think it took quite a bit of bravery to show. It will really give you food for thought.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mellissa

    3/5 ⭐️’s. This was a good read If you are at all interested in the homesteading Kilcher family and the singer Jewel. This is another reflection of parenting and how not dealing with the past can affect the future.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Steven Kirkpatrick

    This was a very enjoyable listen. Atz shares touching, entertaining, dramatic, and humorous stories as he also reflects on his ~70 years of life. Atz's introspection is in a way that made me think about my own life, family, and future. I appreciated his wisdom and humility. This was a very enjoyable listen. Atz shares touching, entertaining, dramatic, and humorous stories as he also reflects on his ~70 years of life. Atz's introspection is in a way that made me think about my own life, family, and future. I appreciated his wisdom and humility.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Susan F

    Review soon

  26. 4 out of 5

    Megan Lee

    informational, interesting, and emotional.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    Meh

  28. 5 out of 5

    Pat

    Very good for followers of the show, Alaska the Last Frontier. Otherwise might not be pertinent

  29. 5 out of 5

    Ivory Castle

    Atz Kitcher was the oldest son and one of eight children growing up in a dysfunctional family on a remote Alaskan homestead and forced to shoulder a lot of responsibility from a young age. During his childhood, he learns survival skills, becomes more than an outdoor handyman, and learns how to read people and how to lie to his father and others. His relationship with his father is tremulous to say the least and Atz subjected to erratic behavior and cruel treatment. His mother is less volatile alt Atz Kitcher was the oldest son and one of eight children growing up in a dysfunctional family on a remote Alaskan homestead and forced to shoulder a lot of responsibility from a young age. During his childhood, he learns survival skills, becomes more than an outdoor handyman, and learns how to read people and how to lie to his father and others. His relationship with his father is tremulous to say the least and Atz subjected to erratic behavior and cruel treatment. His mother is less volatile although she appears to have her own problems. Despite this Atz feels closer to her and becomes ‘her little man’. This narrative of his growing up gives the reader some insight into his private life and the experiences shaping him into the man he is today. I don’t think I would be as forgiving or understanding about the way his father treated Atz and his siblings and the screaming that went with it. It was only in the days before his father’s death that Atz found some peace in himself. Considering his life experiences, I thought he was lucky to reach that point. Atz was able to repair the relationship with his children and displayed a high level of commitment and recognition, which was admirable. I loved the horse and other animal sections and was upset when his favourite horse died. It seemed odd to me that he claimed to love horses yet neglected them when he was off enjoying himself with friends. This book read more like someone telling a story round a campfire and in a very natural, honest and direct way. I had never heard of the author prior to reading this book although I knew Jewel was a singer. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to review this book in return for a free digital copy.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura Smith

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