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Book Review: No Fences in Alaska – Finding Redemption in Alaska

No Fences in Alaska

By Glen Sobey

Harper is a troubled sixteen-year-old. She is going down a path that her parents never thought a daughter of theirs would travel. Deeply religious, her father is the head of a Christian School. Harper has been expelled from the school and is dabbling in sex and drugs. Searching for herself in the cocoon of religious righteousness has not been easy. She feels as though her family has chosen religion over the love for her they once had.

When Harper finds herself over her head and can’t see a way out of the trouble she is in, she turns to the grandfather she hasn’t seen in years. He lives in Alaska, far away from the family that turned their backs on him many years ago. Her grandpa, Cooper, welcomes her without judgement or conditions. Little does Harper know that he is hiding a secret that will soon affect all of their lives.

Even though Harper knows what she wants to do, she so soon realizes that even the best laid plans are subject to change. As she grows closer to Cooper and the lifestyle in Alaska, she begins to change. Cooper encourages her to focus on her love of music again. Her outlook on life changes drastically, but will it be too late to repair the relationship with her father? Is he willing to give her the chance she needs to become herself instead of the perfect person he has tried to create?

Cooper and Harper are the perfect pair. The characters are both deeply flawed, much like most human beings. It is not the flaws that we should judge by, it is how obstacles are overcome and challenges are met. Sobey does a magnificent job of bringing real issues to the forefront and meeting them head on. That is not to say the characters always choose the best or easiest options, but realistically, who does?

Classified as a YA Novel, adults will also find that No Fences in Alaska is a heartwarming tale of redemption, love and change. The setting of Alaska is perfect. Bears, moose and the cold all play roles in the book. The beauty and serenity of the Alaskan wilderness allows more introspect than any state in the lower 48 could possibly offer.

This is the first book I’ve read by Glen Sobey. His previous book, The War Blog was also set in Alaska. Both of his novels are standalone, but both seem to have the same common thread of love, coming of age and the sharp truths some teens have to live with.

DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy for free from  Reedsy Discovery in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Copyright © 2019 Laura Hartman

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New Zealand Possum Yarn!

I saw a sign once that life is too short to use cheap yarn. That doesn’t mean you can’t use bargain priced yarn, just not yarn that feels yucky or doesn’t drape nicely when the scarf, sweater or whatever you are making is complete. Yarn fascinates me. I’ve always been a tactile kind of person, so it stands to reason I like to feel my yarn before I by it. Different weights, different fibers and different processing can all make a difference in yarns. The feel of a nice alpaca or silk blend is heavenly. I’ve used bamboo sock yarn and wool that is soft, scratchy, smooth and lumpy.

Lately, I’ve gone for unusual yarns. At Stitches Midwest I bought some Bison yarn. It is hot pink and black – I imagine the bison would NOT be happy with his fur being turned into these colors, but I loved ’em. I also saw some possum yarn. I dragged my friend back to look at it then we must have gotten distracted by something else, because I ended up not buying it. I was picturing the ugly, rat tailed possums we have in Illinois. They are mean looking critters that have short hair. We actually were trying to figure out how they made a decent yarn out of these overgrown rats.

The next day my friend went back to Stitches, and I decided to text her to pick up that crazy yarn. By the time she got out of class, the vendor wasn’t there. Now I’m obsessed with this weird yarn. So, thanks to the internet, the world of wonky yarn is at my fingertips.

On the contrary – the New Zealand’s possums are actually kind of cute. But New Zealand doesn’t really think they are that cute anymore Apparently in 1837 they were released in the bush to establish a fur industry. There are two breeds, Australian, which have have “rich blue grey fur” and Tasmainian which have “red brown fur”. They have interbreed. Because they are marsupials, not rodents like the American possum, their fur is “hard wearing, silky and plush”.

Possums actively destroying New Zealand's native bush and birds

Unfortunately, they’ve overrun the place. by 1980, 91% of New Zealand was inhabited by them. The Australian possum is a marsupial and a very different species to the American possum, a rodent. The yarn comes from feral animals because it is against New Zealand’s environmental laws to breed or farm them.

Now I am totally obsessed with getting some of this yarn. The website tells us it is not only great yarn, but it is helping their fur industry because the more possums are over running the country and killing off the native species of animals and plants.

The website I found sells Supreme Possum Merino. It as 40% possum fur. The yarn was created from the from the “desire to see a world class quality product made from an ecology ravaging pest”. All Supreme Possum Merino yarn comes from feral animals because it is against New Zealand’s environmental laws to farm or commercially breed possums. The collection of possums is humane and according to Department of Conservation regulations.

The yarn is available in 4 ply, 8 ply and 12 ply. The only light color available is “natural”, but blues, greens, a really pretty burgundy and a darker pink was available. The price wasn’t bad – approx 10.80 US dollars. I don’t know about shipping, because I haven’t ordered any yet – but I’m gonna!

Check out the website, even if you don’t want to get some of the yarn. It just amazes me that yarn can be made out of a “ravaging pest” and be soft and warm.

It makes me wonder what other creatures make soft furry yarn. My stash has that wild bison yarn (I’m going to make some mittens for me, but maybe not until after the first of the year). I have a few balls of yak yarn I found online, don’t know what that will become. There is a wonderful hank of alpaca that I bought because it has the animal’s picture on it that it came from. Alpaca is common, but nice, and this one was cool since I almost feel like I knew the animal it came from.

Maybe the keepers at our local zoo will start collection of lion’s mane that litters their dens. I’d love to use some of the fur from the polar bears or the grizzlies that live there. I’ve seen tufts of fur in their dens, I wonder what they do with it? Do you think our founding mothers used these kinds of fur when spinning yarns? (of course I’m not talking about the lion fur, don’t be silly) If I find out answers to these burning questions, I’ll let you know.

 

(Thanks to http://www.merinopossum.co.nz/why_merino_possum.htm for all the info on the yarn and possum history in New Zealand – and the possum pic). All the zoo animal pics courtesy of my wonderful hubby.

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