Midnight Sun Arctic Moon: Mapping the Wild Heart of Alaska
By: Mary Albanese
Publisher: Epicenter Press
Publication Date: April 2012
Reviewed by: Amy Lignor
Review Date: March 26, 2012
For anyone who has a love of that amazing state that still holds its mystery, its beauty, and has the ability to offer the most harsh existence framed in the most stunning landscape on earth - this is the book for you!
Mary Albanese is from upstate New York; a girl who was headed down one path, yet had a quest so embedded in her mind that she simply gave up all the safety and comforts of home to head out into an unknown world that supplied danger and beauty that only a ‘god’ could provide. From the world of teaching, which she was trained for, Mary decided that there was a stronger calling, and eventually it became her life’s work. In a way, from the moment she placed her foot down on the frozen tundra, Mary became an arctic explorer, and her words, courage, and excitement come through every facet of this book.
One of the best parts of this memoir is the humanity. Mary leads readers through Alaska, but does it with stories and tales that will have readers smiling, crying, and wide-eyed. She was once told that when the temperatures rose to 20 degrees, that she would see the people in Fairbanks walking around in t-shirts and, yes, that was absolutely true. Although surprised many times, Mary was unshaken by their tests of endurance and strength - and she soon found that Alaska was deep in her blood.
She speaks of her mentors, teachers, ‘kings’ of the geophysical world - and invites people into her life with Tom - the man who receives the piece of her heart that Alaska doesn’t own. She talks of their children and (my personal favorite) Ruby - the wolf dog - who is outstandingly beautiful and every reader will want her the moment they see her.
There are so many amazing facets of this memoir that it actually appeals to everyone. It is a fact that when someone is speaking about their ‘true love’ that their words resonate with intelligence, kindness, fear, honor, and complete and utter happiness. Mary’s ‘industry’ is geology, but she is actually a woman who found a miracle that not many ever find - her niche that was waiting for her out there in the world. She took chances, she played through fears, and she found a place that is as much a part of her as she is of it.
Readers will get lost in the mountains, crevasses, the highest peaks, the glistening white wonderlands - and they will come to know right away that even though Mary could feel the freezing temperatures that were mind-boggling harsh, her incredible love for Alaska kept her soul warm. And the tales of the family, as well as the pictures, provide an intimate and unforgettable look into this mysterious land and the life of a writer who will touch your very soul.
Quill Says: Stunning, beautiful, funny, sad - a memoir that will have you taking the chance to find your niche in the world!