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Epic Solitude: A Story of Survival and a Quest for Meaning in the Far North

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All her life, Katherine Keith has hungered for remote, wild places that fill her soul with freedom and peace. Her travels take her across America, but it is in the vast and rugged landscape of Alaska that she finds her true home. Alaska is known as a place where people disappear--at least a couple thousand go missing each year. But the same vast and rugged landscape that c All her life, Katherine Keith has hungered for remote, wild places that fill her soul with freedom and peace. Her travels take her across America, but it is in the vast and rugged landscape of Alaska that she finds her true home. Alaska is known as a place where people disappear--at least a couple thousand go missing each year. But the same vast and rugged landscape that contributed to so many people being lost is precisely what has gotten her found. She and her husband build a log cabin miles away from the nearest road and create a life of love. An idyllic existence, but with isolation and brutal living conditions can also come heartbreak. Chopping wood and hauling water are not just parts of a Zen proverb but a requirement for survival. Keith experiences tragic loss and must push on, with her infant daughter, alone in the Alaskan backcountry. Long-distance dog sledding opens a door to a new existence. Racing across the state of Alaska offers the best of all worlds by combining raw wilderness with solitude and athleticism. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the "Last Great Race on Earth," remains a true test of character and offers the opportunity to intimately explore the frontier that she has come to love. With every thousand miles of winter trail traversed in total solitude, she confronts challenges that awaken internal demons, summoning all the inner grief and rage that lies dormant. In the tradition of Cheryl Strayed's Wild and John Krakauer's Into the Wild, Epic Solitude is the powerful and touching story of how one woman found her way--both despite and because of--the difficulties of living and racing in the remote wilderness.


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All her life, Katherine Keith has hungered for remote, wild places that fill her soul with freedom and peace. Her travels take her across America, but it is in the vast and rugged landscape of Alaska that she finds her true home. Alaska is known as a place where people disappear--at least a couple thousand go missing each year. But the same vast and rugged landscape that c All her life, Katherine Keith has hungered for remote, wild places that fill her soul with freedom and peace. Her travels take her across America, but it is in the vast and rugged landscape of Alaska that she finds her true home. Alaska is known as a place where people disappear--at least a couple thousand go missing each year. But the same vast and rugged landscape that contributed to so many people being lost is precisely what has gotten her found. She and her husband build a log cabin miles away from the nearest road and create a life of love. An idyllic existence, but with isolation and brutal living conditions can also come heartbreak. Chopping wood and hauling water are not just parts of a Zen proverb but a requirement for survival. Keith experiences tragic loss and must push on, with her infant daughter, alone in the Alaskan backcountry. Long-distance dog sledding opens a door to a new existence. Racing across the state of Alaska offers the best of all worlds by combining raw wilderness with solitude and athleticism. The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, the "Last Great Race on Earth," remains a true test of character and offers the opportunity to intimately explore the frontier that she has come to love. With every thousand miles of winter trail traversed in total solitude, she confronts challenges that awaken internal demons, summoning all the inner grief and rage that lies dormant. In the tradition of Cheryl Strayed's Wild and John Krakauer's Into the Wild, Epic Solitude is the powerful and touching story of how one woman found her way--both despite and because of--the difficulties of living and racing in the remote wilderness.

30 review for Epic Solitude: A Story of Survival and a Quest for Meaning in the Far North

  1. 4 out of 5

    Swaroop

    An incredible memoir! "I yearn to be part of the symphony of life embodying the perfection of nature but my song is punctuated with the dissonance of human flaws, of which there are many." At first glance, it felt like this book was about an adventure undertaken by a woman into the remote and wild Alaska. Even the blurb posted on Goodreads, focuses much on Alaska, the life there and about the races. "Something greater than myself lies ahead, and I am about to change my life one step at a time." But An incredible memoir! "I yearn to be part of the symphony of life embodying the perfection of nature but my song is punctuated with the dissonance of human flaws, of which there are many." At first glance, it felt like this book was about an adventure undertaken by a woman into the remote and wild Alaska. Even the blurb posted on Goodreads, focuses much on Alaska, the life there and about the races. "Something greater than myself lies ahead, and I am about to change my life one step at a time." But, this book is much more than that. It is about life, it`s uncertainties and uncontrollable circumstances, and also about that deep human yearning to figure out what our heart is passionate about, and then trying, by all means, to tread on the path to fulfill that yearning. "One thing about the wilderness is that it is always with you if you look for it. It's in the sky, stars, birds, grass and sun, whether here in Garrison, in Minnesota, or in Alaska. If you keep that wilderness in your heart and nurture it, no matter where you are, you'll always have the real thing." "A photograph cannot replicate the sound of a babbling brook, the taste of ice-cold mountain water, or the smell of crisp alpine air." Note: Thank you Katherine Keith, Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley - for the preview copy of this interesting book. "Grief holds tragic beauty. Stunned moments of sadness are healthy for the soul, reminding us to be real."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 The book begins and ends with Katherine running the Iditarod. I loved the way she introduced her dogs, names and personalities. In between she is searching for a way to overcome some pretty heavy battles in her life. Sexual abuse, an eating disorder, cutting, and she turns to nature as a solace. She also searches in other ways, a vision quest, a sweat lodge, and the path to Buddhism. She ends up in Alaska, where she suffers additional losses, but also the strength she needs to overcome her p 3.5 The book begins and ends with Katherine running the Iditarod. I loved the way she introduced her dogs, names and personalities. In between she is searching for a way to overcome some pretty heavy battles in her life. Sexual abuse, an eating disorder, cutting, and she turns to nature as a solace. She also searches in other ways, a vision quest, a sweat lodge, and the path to Buddhism. She ends up in Alaska, where she suffers additional losses, but also the strength she needs to overcome her past and move forward. So honest, so open and heartbreaking. We journey with her, and I became emotionally invested in her set backs and successes. I wanted her to succeed, she tries so hard and conquers much. Quite a heartfelt read. "We all find our truth in different ways. I find mine in the wilderness, meditation, and many other ways that bring me Joy. Truth is the pivot point between searching and giving. To live a life of balance Means standing solid in your truth. It also means knowing when we need to voice back and forth, between searching and giving, with grace."

  3. 5 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    An amazing memoir about a young woman who beats the odds and so much adversity to find her way through incredible challenges and pain. I had to take some time to digest all that she went through after I was done reading it, and then all that she did to work on herself in the latter part. It’s really quite admirable, and I’m glad she had family to help at times. I just flew through this book like a person starved for text, it was so readable to me and kept pulling me along. I was hooked, and had An amazing memoir about a young woman who beats the odds and so much adversity to find her way through incredible challenges and pain. I had to take some time to digest all that she went through after I was done reading it, and then all that she did to work on herself in the latter part. It’s really quite admirable, and I’m glad she had family to help at times. I just flew through this book like a person starved for text, it was so readable to me and kept pulling me along. I was hooked, and had to know what came next. It's truly a story that will make you wonder how much a person can take, yet shows you how some can keep going on in the face of harsh adversity. This is one tough lady with tons of determination. I recommend for those who like to read about people with high adrenaline lives. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Katherine Keith, and the publisher. First published on my WordPress blog as viewable here: https://wordpress.com/post/bookblog20...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Max

    I could not put this one down! This is such a heartbreaking but powerful story. I expected a more practical description of a few dog sled races, but got an amazing powerful memoir of a very interesting person where tragic things happened to. The author has really seen rough times, but is a fighter and I often wondered how can one be so strong? Really inspirational. This is a book that made me think, and I love it when a story does that. Would I do those things? Or how would I react? Why does the I could not put this one down! This is such a heartbreaking but powerful story. I expected a more practical description of a few dog sled races, but got an amazing powerful memoir of a very interesting person where tragic things happened to. The author has really seen rough times, but is a fighter and I often wondered how can one be so strong? Really inspirational. This is a book that made me think, and I love it when a story does that. Would I do those things? Or how would I react? Why does the author do the things she does? It is so inspirational even though it can be very sad at some parts. I had to get used to the time jumping in the beginning, but in the end I found it a great way to tell this story. Also I loved the pictures at the end. Definitely recommended! Thank you publisher and NetGalley for the advance reader copy. These are 100% my personal opinions.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Juli

    The author shares her experiences in Alaska...day to day survival, dog racing, love, loss, challenges.... Living in the wilderness brings hardship, but also a love of life, courage, strength and profound peace. I enjoyed this glimpse into a lifestyle I have always found intriguing. I could not do what Katherine and others who love living in remote challenging areas face on a daily basis. I enjoyed reading about her life and experiences, but the writing style and disjointed storytelling really hi The author shares her experiences in Alaska...day to day survival, dog racing, love, loss, challenges.... Living in the wilderness brings hardship, but also a love of life, courage, strength and profound peace. I enjoyed this glimpse into a lifestyle I have always found intriguing. I could not do what Katherine and others who love living in remote challenging areas face on a daily basis. I enjoyed reading about her life and experiences, but the writing style and disjointed storytelling really hindered me from really getting into this story as much as I wanted to. I did enjoy the book, but I never really felt emotionally invested in it. The concept and message is wonderful...but the writing itself is just ok. I have a deep respect for those who live and thrive in remote, harsh places. I'm glad that Katherine shared her story! **I voluntarily read a review copy of this book from Blackstone Publishing. All opinions expressed are entirely my own.**

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Reviewed on: Ashes Books & Bobs. Many thanks to Blackstone Publishing & Netgalley for the chance to read this memoir. I was eager to check out this book because solitude and adventure go hand in hand for me and are both things I value tremendously in life. When this book was compared to Wild by Cheryl Strayed in the blurb, I knew I had to have it. I absolutely loved reading Cheryl’s story and discovering this subgenre of memoirs through her book. Overall, this was an incredibly interesting read and Reviewed on: Ashes Books & Bobs. Many thanks to Blackstone Publishing & Netgalley for the chance to read this memoir. I was eager to check out this book because solitude and adventure go hand in hand for me and are both things I value tremendously in life. When this book was compared to Wild by Cheryl Strayed in the blurb, I knew I had to have it. I absolutely loved reading Cheryl’s story and discovering this subgenre of memoirs through her book. Overall, this was an incredibly interesting read and a story of a life well-lived, with much more living to do! I was surprised by the number of things Katherine had accomplished in her forty-some years and the amount of tragedy that has touched her life. She’s a true survivor! I hate to judge someone’s honest life story in the form of star ratings, but unfortunately, it comes with the territory of being a book blogger. In many ways, I felt this story lacked the personal element I strongly desire from the memoirs I read. There was also a bit of a disjointed feel with the alternation between the past and future settings, making it difficult to sink into the author’s story. In some areas, I had to skim because the writing became philosophical rather than a true telling of events. The actual telling of experiences seemed to be glossed over and quickly mentioned, leaving me with numerous questions. Nonetheless, I found Epic Solitude to be interesting and inspiring. It’s comparable to Wild, as Katherine did her own hiking of the Pacific Crest Trail before moving to Alaska, and her need for direction was relatable to Cheryl’s story. I also appreciated just how descriptive the author was in describing Alaska’s brutality. To many of us in the lower 48, Katherine’s experiences will seem completely foreign. I especially love learning about people who live their lives differently from the majority of society. Pick up a copy of Epic Solitude on February 4th.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review! An engaging and at times heartbreaking memoir about a woman and her love of the outdoors. It was different than I was expecting – there was less focus on dogsledding than on the trials in her personal life, but this was not a bad thing; her life story is at times devastating and told with honesty. She writes with an openness and clarity that you can tell is genuine; she doesn’t try to sugar coat anything or make excuses. That be I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review! An engaging and at times heartbreaking memoir about a woman and her love of the outdoors. It was different than I was expecting – there was less focus on dogsledding than on the trials in her personal life, but this was not a bad thing; her life story is at times devastating and told with honesty. She writes with an openness and clarity that you can tell is genuine; she doesn’t try to sugar coat anything or make excuses. That being said, I could have dealt with a different structure to the story. The actual dogsled races in the second half are broken up by longer chapters about her life fifteen years prior, which served to distract from the races and made them all blend together. Granted, other than a few interesting occurrences during each one, I’m sure most of dogsledding would seem rather boring from someone reading about it. From what she explained, the sport is long stretches in the wilderness broken up by either resting or calamity. I would love to try it someday! Stronger than the dogsledding are her sections about trying to make a life in the wilderness. I could have used a bit more physical description of the areas, though I’m sure if I wasn’t using a Kindle edition the photos would have helped. There is a growing focus in the novel on her spiritual journey as well. While this is something I tended to skim, there wasn’t too much of it to make me bored. It’s clear she’s not trying to convince anyone to join her way of thinking but to show one of the methods she used to right herself psychologically after her numerous traumas. Overall, a very compelling story about an incredibly brave and resilient woman.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Fran Cormack

    Thank you to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for an early copy of this book. How does someone survive such loss and still lead an inspiring and positive life? Katherine Keith suffered immeasurable loss and yet her strength to carry on and help others shines through in this memoir of a life less ordinary.

  9. 5 out of 5

    This Feral Housewife

    Holy wow!! Y’all need to read this book!! What a story and a life. Just a very cool journey through a life most of us will never experience.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lyne

    3.5 Stars Many years ago, I was watching a documentary about female mushers and I thought what an incredibly strong, crazy, badass group of women they were. When I saw this book, my interest was already peeked and I wanted to know more. Katherine Keith’s memoir compares favourably to other female authors of autobiographies that I have read. These fierce women are all in the midst of struggling and trying to deal with mental issues and traumas, self abusing themselves, and at one point, I had to as 3.5 Stars Many years ago, I was watching a documentary about female mushers and I thought what an incredibly strong, crazy, badass group of women they were. When I saw this book, my interest was already peeked and I wanted to know more. Katherine Keith’s memoir compares favourably to other female authors of autobiographies that I have read. These fierce women are all in the midst of struggling and trying to deal with mental issues and traumas, self abusing themselves, and at one point, I had to ask myself, do I keep reading it or not? In Part II, however, I found that once Katherine arrives in Alaska, her life changes, she falls in love and has goals. During this time, she experiencs traumatic losses and yet, she bravely presses on. I watched some of the interviews of Katherine that are on Google and I like her. She seems so young, so open, and it helped me connect with her memoir. I found the book a bit confusing at first, the chapters are not chronological. Her timeline goes back and forth which made the book a bit disjointed and choppy. If you are ready for an Alaskan adventure along with sled-dog racing, this book is for you. This is one courageous, resilient and tenacious strong woman!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Brian Miller

    A really good book about someone destined to live life on her terms and the struggle to achieve her dreams against many, many obstacles. The books tells the life of Katherine who although born in Minnesota, dreams of a life living on her own in Alaska. Her struggles with mental health made me sympathize with her and further things I do not want to spoil for the reader really made my heart go out for her. Against long odds, she was able to raise her daughter to be successful and happy. The second A really good book about someone destined to live life on her terms and the struggle to achieve her dreams against many, many obstacles. The books tells the life of Katherine who although born in Minnesota, dreams of a life living on her own in Alaska. Her struggles with mental health made me sympathize with her and further things I do not want to spoil for the reader really made my heart go out for her. Against long odds, she was able to raise her daughter to be successful and happy. The second part mixed throughout the book is her quest to run the Iditarod. It is very exciting to hear something about a race someone outside of Alaska really doesn't understand too well. It was interesting reading all the hardships one has to endure to race in and complete any long distance dog race. If you like stories about the outdoors and life in harsh conditions, pick up this book. You won't be disappointed. Thank you Netgalley, Katherine Keith and Blackstone Publishing for the ARC for my honest review.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    ***I received a copy through NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*** I respect the bravery that it must have taken to write the story and publish it into the world. However, it was hard for me to get into. While I might jump back into it from time to time, it’s not a book that I feel like I have to finish. It’s a bit too “spiritual” for me and the jumping timeline makes it really difficult to get into. I think this book is probably one that picks up past the halfway mark, ***I received a copy through NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*** I respect the bravery that it must have taken to write the story and publish it into the world. However, it was hard for me to get into. While I might jump back into it from time to time, it’s not a book that I feel like I have to finish. It’s a bit too “spiritual” for me and the jumping timeline makes it really difficult to get into. I think this book is probably one that picks up past the halfway mark, but after reading about 1/3 of it, I find myself putting it down more than picking it up.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

    Thank you NetGalley for the advanced copy of Epic Solitude. I struggled to get through this book. The story was present and had a lot of potential, however it took me 2/3 of the way through the book to feel any depth or emotion in the writing. I felt there were a bit too many metaphors early on and the writing jumped around too much. I give credit to the author for her determination and strength to go through all her trials and tribulations.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah G

    Gripping, intense and emotional account of one woman's life journey. She consistently overcomes tragedy after turmoil and keeps moving forward. Inspiring, heartbreaking and thrilling. I rarely review books but this has been one of my favorite by far. Gripping, intense and emotional account of one woman's life journey. She consistently overcomes tragedy after turmoil and keeps moving forward. Inspiring, heartbreaking and thrilling. I rarely review books but this has been one of my favorite by far.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Brandi

    Eeesh. I feel like my complaints are more about the author as a person than the book itself ... although the book doesn’t deliver on its promise either. I for sure am coming at it from a place of really not understanding why anyone without a real, solid reason and lots of training to back it up would do the things she does. So maybe I was just never going to like this. And maybe she just doesn’t spend a lot of words on the effort she puts into learning how to do these things safely, but consider Eeesh. I feel like my complaints are more about the author as a person than the book itself ... although the book doesn’t deliver on its promise either. I for sure am coming at it from a place of really not understanding why anyone without a real, solid reason and lots of training to back it up would do the things she does. So maybe I was just never going to like this. And maybe she just doesn’t spend a lot of words on the effort she puts into learning how to do these things safely, but considering how much goes wrong, she just comes across as extremely flakey and reckless. And book-wise ... there’s very little in here about the value of solitude (which you’d expect from the title, right?) or how one goes about doing dog races in Alaska. It’s a lot about her personal tragedies, which to be fair are many and extremely sad. But every few pages in the book brings a new resolution to help people and be more authentic. Which would be fine (well, the frequency would still be irritating), except I never get the impression that she was ever being anything but authentic (to the point of being selfish), and there is not a word in here about her helping anybody.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mary Pennington

    Step aside Cheryl Strayed, this woman here is a true badass! This is a great memoir and so much more than just another story about Alaska. I only hope I can show even a shred of the same resilience as Katherine if ever faced with similar challenges.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Nemo Nemo

    Synopsis Katherine Keith is epic and so is her manuscript. In a world where people breakdown or have a conniption-fit if their phone runs out of power there are others; extraordinary, resilient, talented, survivors that put the rest of us to shame. Whilst most of us consider we have had a bad day if we miss a phone call or a connection at the airport; this woman deals with exceptional challenges and never fails to meet them head on. Katherine takes us on a journey from her most formative years as Synopsis Katherine Keith is epic and so is her manuscript. In a world where people breakdown or have a conniption-fit if their phone runs out of power there are others; extraordinary, resilient, talented, survivors that put the rest of us to shame. Whilst most of us consider we have had a bad day if we miss a phone call or a connection at the airport; this woman deals with exceptional challenges and never fails to meet them head on. Katherine takes us on a journey from her most formative years as an adolescent and on to her 20’s. Partly forgotten memories emerge and create dissonance that she combats through the implementation of superhuman physical challenges. She tries to rein in her early experiences against the back drop of mountains, wild rivers, and valleys. At 21 years old Katherine moved to Alaska and performed several jobs before finding her reason to remain. Happiness is fleeting, and an accident leads her to dig deep and change her circumstance. Coping with deep-seated loss, she seeks to drive away the overwhelming sadness with training; ultimately competing in the Iron Man Race and in several triathlons. Practical problems require practical solutions and we are there along for the ride as Keith uses academia to elevate herself substantially, economically, and psychologically. She endures through pilot training and engine malfunctions to earn her private pilot certificate. One cannot help but feel inadequate for all that this woman achieves through sheer brute determination and personal application. Set against all the trials and tribulations is Keith’s passion for the wilderness and its solitude. In the wilds facing down the elements, living on the edge, and racing across the environment you feel she is the freest. Interspersed through the book are Keith’s recollections of her Endurance Dog Sled Races. These races include: the Yukon Quest, the Iditarod, the Kobuk 400, and the Kuskokwim 300. They occurred during a period that spanned from 2012 to 2017 set against numerous and increasingly destructive personal experiences. I am filled with admiration for Katherine Keith’s ability to get up again and again and continue fighting. She is all the more exceptional as she was also a single parent with all the responsibility that brings. Her spiritual beliefs she found to be irreplaceable. When times were at their worst, she gained solace in their tenants. We are left in no doubt that without her core beliefs she would have had to struggle even harder to survive. Conclusion I have no reluctance in recommending this book to you. Katherine Keith’s tale is genuinely epic, as is the woman herself. After all the adversity, grief, heartache, misery and misfortune Katherine has never given up on her goals. She is currently working her way to climb 7 Summits in 3 years. They are as follows: Mt. Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elbrus, Vinson Massif, and Carsten Pyramid / Puncak Jaya or Mt. Koscuiuszko When she isn’t planning the next adventure, she can be found working in her company with John Baker, owners of Remote Solutions, LLC based in the town of Kotzebue, Alaska. They provide the community with essential project management support and design tailored for remote communities. Acknowledgment My sincere thanks go out to: NetGalley, the Author, Katherine Keith, Blackstone Publishing (2020) for affording me the opportunity to review; Epic Solitude.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Memoirs about women going out into the world to find themselves or their own truths have become a veritable cottage industry since the success of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. While these books became instant bestsellers, the lookalikes they inspired have garnered an ocean of criticism regarding traveling long distances in search of spiritual truths, as though Henry David Thoreau didn’t do the same thing in 1854 and write a classic while his mother did his laundr Memoirs about women going out into the world to find themselves or their own truths have become a veritable cottage industry since the success of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love and Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. While these books became instant bestsellers, the lookalikes they inspired have garnered an ocean of criticism regarding traveling long distances in search of spiritual truths, as though Henry David Thoreau didn’t do the same thing in 1854 and write a classic while his mother did his laundry for him. With her memoir, Epic Solitude, dogsledder and wilderness athlete Katherine Keith recounts the experiences that led her from a childhood in the Minnesota woods to the Pacific Crest Trail in California to life in a cabin in the Alaskan wilderness north of the Arctic Circle. Her life has not been an easy one. Though her early childhood was relatively idyllic, it took a sharp turn in her teens, leading to eating disorders, sleep disorders, and undiagnosed mental illnesses that took their toll on her life and relationships. She headed west in search of answers, hiking a long span of the Pacific Crest Trail before taking part in a series of Native American rituals that helped her unravel her past traumas. But this did not heal her, and when she hit rock bottom she bought an old van and headed to Alaska, the place she had always dreamed of living. There, she sets her feet onto a path that would lead her to love, tragedy, and ultimately a path to purpose and happiness. “If I allow myself to get wrapped up in adversity, the wallowing can wreck my race. If I surrender, ride the waves, some breathtaking gift– a sunset, a moonrise, the northern lights– is always waiting just around the bend in the trail. This is the balance. Not only the race, but life itself.” Truth is at the core of Epic Solitude. Keith’s travels are meant to help her discover her own spiritual truths, and every turn of the story she tells the truth about herself. While memoirists tell the truth about themselves, they often polish it up to make themselves look just a little better than the reality would otherwise show. Not so for Keith, who writes the full, unflattering truth about her own faults and failings, and doesn’t gloss over a single event of the worst mistake of her life– one that leads to an incredible tragedy. But while Keith tells the unvarnished truth of her life, the story itself is told unevenly. It bounces back and forth between past and present, an often jarring narrative choice that lacks an obvious reason. Are the short chapters dealing with dogsledding and the Iditarod meant to provide a guiding star for the reader when they are traversing the morass of Keith’s younger years? Are they meant to provide suspense across the chapters when she describes her failed first marriage? For the most part, they seem to chop Keith’s early life into a series of anecdotes, reducing their power in a way ill-suited to the overall story. Her struggles with mental illness are, after all, what sent her fleeing into the Alaskan wilderness in search of peace. The driving force of one’s life deserves more than a series of choppy anecdotes. But the power of Keith’s story rises above the manner in which it is told. She spends most of her youth in a constant struggle to start over, sometimes giving in to her despair, and sometimes conquering it. While she may not be the most gifted of storytellers, Keith clearly has a fascinating story to tell. If readers can overlook the jittery pacing and questionable dialogue, then Keith’s story of rising from her own ruin is an inspiring one. As a memoir of a life lived in the extreme places of the world, Epic Solitude emerges as a solid but less-elegant heir to Cheryl Strayed’s Wild. Thank you to NetGalley and Blackstone Publishing for providing a free egalley in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion.

  19. 4 out of 5

    K L

    This book was a quite a ride, I can tell you that. It broke my heart several times over. The first half of this memoir I was not convinced. Though I felt for the author, I could not quite connect to the writing style and I struggled with the way Katherine expressed herself. When you are reading a memoir, you want to feel connected to the person telling his or her story and this what was not happening for me in the beginning. However, I think this changed the moment she arrived in Alaska. The secon This book was a quite a ride, I can tell you that. It broke my heart several times over. The first half of this memoir I was not convinced. Though I felt for the author, I could not quite connect to the writing style and I struggled with the way Katherine expressed herself. When you are reading a memoir, you want to feel connected to the person telling his or her story and this what was not happening for me in the beginning. However, I think this changed the moment she arrived in Alaska. The second half of the book had me hooked. I cried with Katherine as she experienced her losses and rooted for her as she bravely fought to be the best she could be, both for herself and the people that needed her. I once spent five days on a dogsled in the Arctic and it was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had, so reading about that part of her life brought back amazing memories and made me smile. I feel like I have been through the wars at the end of this book, so I can only imagine how Katherine Keith must feel. I am so grateful that she shared her experiences with us, the readers. I am full of admiration for this woman. If you are interested in stories of survival and hardship, read this book. It is worth your time!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Janie

    When this showed up as a new Overdrive addition, I snatched up the audio. I'll grab almost anything Alaska. In some info about the book, Cheryl Strayed was mentioned, and yes, if you've read Wild, you will notice the similarity of quest. This is a difficult book because of the loss involved. So much. But the balance is the survival reaped. My real interest began when she actually went to Alaska. As difficult as parts of this story is, encouragement pervades with Keith's pursuit of survival on ma When this showed up as a new Overdrive addition, I snatched up the audio. I'll grab almost anything Alaska. In some info about the book, Cheryl Strayed was mentioned, and yes, if you've read Wild, you will notice the similarity of quest. This is a difficult book because of the loss involved. So much. But the balance is the survival reaped. My real interest began when she actually went to Alaska. As difficult as parts of this story is, encouragement pervades with Keith's pursuit of survival on many fronts. Katherine Keith is one tough and determined girl!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    Thank you NetGalley and publisher for an ARC of this book now available. This books started as a 3⭐️ and mostly finished as 4⭐️. The book bounced around between different timelines especially in the beginning and often the changes in timeline didn’t really make sense. It was a choppy read and in the first third it made it hard to empathize with the author because you don’t really understand what had happened to her. Once the author gets to Alaska the story becomes easier to follow and you finall Thank you NetGalley and publisher for an ARC of this book now available. This books started as a 3⭐️ and mostly finished as 4⭐️. The book bounced around between different timelines especially in the beginning and often the changes in timeline didn’t really make sense. It was a choppy read and in the first third it made it hard to empathize with the author because you don’t really understand what had happened to her. Once the author gets to Alaska the story becomes easier to follow and you finally feel for the author. But then toward the end the timelines jump around again and you feel you are missing chunks of her story (for which I then googled news coverage to learn more.) Despite the books disjointed pacing, I still recommend this one especially for those who find healing in nature and adventure. I would suggest checking out or purchasing a hard copy so you can see the photos and it will be easier to go back and forth to get clarity on timelines.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Dykes

    DNF at 35%. I was really looking forward to reading this book as I adore stories of Alaska and outdoor adventure. However, the poor writing and lack of emotion caused me to discontinue. I really wanted to but I just could not bring myself to read more. I think one of the things that did not work in this book's favour was that the author's discussion of the Pacific Coast Trail caused me to compare it to Cheryl Strayed's Wild, and the writing of that memoir is just so much better. This book paled s DNF at 35%. I was really looking forward to reading this book as I adore stories of Alaska and outdoor adventure. However, the poor writing and lack of emotion caused me to discontinue. I really wanted to but I just could not bring myself to read more. I think one of the things that did not work in this book's favour was that the author's discussion of the Pacific Coast Trail caused me to compare it to Cheryl Strayed's Wild, and the writing of that memoir is just so much better. This book paled significantly. I enjoyed the parts about dog sledding more, but it still read as a grocery list of places/ terrain the author had encountered. Thank you to Netgalley and Blackstone Publishing for an ARC of this book in return for review.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Henderson-Farr

    Thank you to Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I had a really hard time getting into this story as I felt the first 30% of this book was a little boring for me. I didn't really feel engaged with the author until her story moves to her life in Alaska. Once I got to this part of the story the emotions started to become very real and heartbreaking, she lost so much in a very short timespan. I didn't really enjoy the back and forth Thank you to Blackstone Publishing and NetGalley for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I had a really hard time getting into this story as I felt the first 30% of this book was a little boring for me. I didn't really feel engaged with the author until her story moves to her life in Alaska. Once I got to this part of the story the emotions started to become very real and heartbreaking, she lost so much in a very short timespan. I didn't really enjoy the back and forth between past and present while telling about her life and think I would much prefer a more linear telling of her story. Once you get into the telling this was a very captivating memoir sure to be liked by many people.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Holly Marie

    This book is one you can’t put down and truly is, EPIC. Katherine Keith and her story about determination, hard work, courage, sacrifice, love and grief will linger with you after reading this book. Her story takes you from Minnesota to many adventures to her dream destination to Alaska, where she’s inspired solitude and beauty by being around nature and living outdoors, to leading her own pack of dog mushers and competing in the Alaska Iditarod. What an amazing and inspiring woman she is and I This book is one you can’t put down and truly is, EPIC. Katherine Keith and her story about determination, hard work, courage, sacrifice, love and grief will linger with you after reading this book. Her story takes you from Minnesota to many adventures to her dream destination to Alaska, where she’s inspired solitude and beauty by being around nature and living outdoors, to leading her own pack of dog mushers and competing in the Alaska Iditarod. What an amazing and inspiring woman she is and I can’t emphasize that enough. Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for this advanced reader copy. This review is 100% of my personal opinions.

  25. 5 out of 5

    sbtbkb

    This was a beautifully written book. The style was both pragmatic and poetic. At time it was a bit too poetic and I got lost at what was going on but overall was really drawn in. I liked the timeline of going back and forth. It was refreshing to read about someone who still faces struggles and wasn't cured by wilderness but found it essential to her wellbeing. It was heartbreaking to read about what the author went through but inspiring to see how she persisted. This was a beautifully written book. The style was both pragmatic and poetic. At time it was a bit too poetic and I got lost at what was going on but overall was really drawn in. I liked the timeline of going back and forth. It was refreshing to read about someone who still faces struggles and wasn't cured by wilderness but found it essential to her wellbeing. It was heartbreaking to read about what the author went through but inspiring to see how she persisted.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sharon Naylor Toris

    A great story for a fighter/survivor, as truly challenging situations rise up and characters is developed in the coping. This story is gripping, scenic, and a workout for your emotions. I was captivated and inspired. Very nicely done, very visual. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the review copy.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Julie Buckles

    Katherine Keith is a smart, tough, resilient human being. She is remarkable and has a great story. That said, she is not a writer and the book is lesser for it. Considering this touches on all of my favorite subjects—Alaska, wilderness, adventure, dogs, women empowerment—I had to force myself to finish. The structure is off and the storytelling uneven. For instance, the book begins with a beautiful story about a weekend with her father and after that her father is barely mentioned. She tells the Katherine Keith is a smart, tough, resilient human being. She is remarkable and has a great story. That said, she is not a writer and the book is lesser for it. Considering this touches on all of my favorite subjects—Alaska, wilderness, adventure, dogs, women empowerment—I had to force myself to finish. The structure is off and the storytelling uneven. For instance, the book begins with a beautiful story about a weekend with her father and after that her father is barely mentioned. She tells the reader the story of her life but with so little joy that it feels like it was a chore to write—and feels like a chore to read. Keith's mode of coping is to plow through and keep moving—all the way to annual Iron Man competitions. She presents her memoir in a similar way, skimming over lots of material. By citing so many facts about her life she reveals very little in the way of reflection or wisdom. Huge, huge events (death of loved ones) are mentioned in a sentence or less. My last complaint, considering the cover, I was disappointed by how little there was about dogsledding or dogs. She weaves in the Iditarod and Yukon Quest but again, in quick broad strokes.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    🥱 It took two weeks to get to page 52 and I called it. I rarely quit a book, but this read like the journal-entry ramblings of a preadolescent full of detail yet lacking substance. I skipped to the pictures (a reward I reserve for completion) and saw the page after was about a genuinely sad and tragic situation and I found myself reading. During this section the author found her voice and wrote eloquently a chapter incongruous with pages 1-52 then just like that she was back at it. One of the ph 🥱 It took two weeks to get to page 52 and I called it. I rarely quit a book, but this read like the journal-entry ramblings of a preadolescent full of detail yet lacking substance. I skipped to the pictures (a reward I reserve for completion) and saw the page after was about a genuinely sad and tragic situation and I found myself reading. During this section the author found her voice and wrote eloquently a chapter incongruous with pages 1-52 then just like that she was back at it. One of the photo captions caught my attention so I flipped to the final pages to read about that- again very well written- and then closed it for good. You remember that annoying girl in middle school whose stories were so over the top she lost credibility. That’s this author. I found myself begging her to stop talking then realized I had the power to make that happen. I truly wish the entire book was as genuine as those two heartfelt sections I skipped too (and as enticing as the cover photo) alas it is not so.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    I finally finished Katherine's memoir after starting it last summer. My excuse is that this book was only on my old Kindle which I keep in a camping duffel, so I only picked it up again when I was traveling — limited as of late. But I also did struggle at times to stay interested in the story. The writing is rudimentary and often lacking emotion even when the author describes incredible and tragic scenarios. Descriptions feel stilted, and although the author has a lifetime's worth of amazing exp I finally finished Katherine's memoir after starting it last summer. My excuse is that this book was only on my old Kindle which I keep in a camping duffel, so I only picked it up again when I was traveling — limited as of late. But I also did struggle at times to stay interested in the story. The writing is rudimentary and often lacking emotion even when the author describes incredible and tragic scenarios. Descriptions feel stilted, and although the author has a lifetime's worth of amazing experiences, you rarely feel like you're along for the ride. After a while, the already truncated recollections of sled dog races are almost completely overshadowed by tragedy after tragedy in the author's personal life. When another story about the Yukon Quest came along, it even caught me by surprise. "Oh yes. This is a dog mushing book." Not that I fault the author for addressing the life events that brought her to sled dog racing. This is a memoir after all. This book is an interesting read, if at times brutal, but it did leave me wanting for a clearer perspective into the author's world.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Todd Smith

    The author in this book hungers for remote places and found adventure in Alaska, but not without heartache. The book takes you through her Iditarod Sled Dog Race and then flashes back to what brought her to wanting to raise across the tundra in 40 below temperatures. She has faced a life of loss, I don’t want to detail too much since I would spoil the book, but she goes through a lot of trauma in this book. My only wish was that she could have talked more about some of the people she was closest The author in this book hungers for remote places and found adventure in Alaska, but not without heartache. The book takes you through her Iditarod Sled Dog Race and then flashes back to what brought her to wanting to raise across the tundra in 40 below temperatures. She has faced a life of loss, I don’t want to detail too much since I would spoil the book, but she goes through a lot of trauma in this book. My only wish was that she could have talked more about some of the people she was closest to in the book. Sometimes the people came and went too quickly for me to know how much they meant to her. If you want to know what it is like to brave the wilds of Alaska and survive heartache then this is the book to read.

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