The Road to Courage

A Boy's Adventures on America's Last Frontier

Non-Fiction - Memoir
296 Pages
Reviewed on 07/03/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Nino Lobiladze for Readers' Favorite

In Roy Taylor's The Road to Courage, Andrew Taylor, his wife, Louela, and their young children, James and Roy, relocated from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Valdez, Alaska, in the early 1950s. Andrew pursued a noble goal: constructing a log church for a new Free Methodist congregation in Valdez. Louela hoped Andrew would become a minister for this church. Five-year-old James was looking forward to an incredible adventure, while four-and-a-half-year-old Roy was less enthusiastic regarding it. The Taylors spent three weeks on the road and reached Valdez after a risky trip via the Alcan Highway, only to find a heap of logs and a pit for the church's foundation. Andrew raced against snowfalls to finish the church for Christmas. Louela ran the household with a firm hand, and James and Roy explored the wild surroundings where bears and moose were an integral part of the landscape.

The Road to Courage by Roy Taylor is an inspirational tale of hope, faith, and inner fortitude for fans of memoirs, drama, adventure, and travel. The book reads like a captivating historical novel, thanks to its fine structure and the author's lively writing style. Roy lovingly describes his family members. Highly skilled and hard-working, Andrew embraced the Alaskan wilderness despite its many risks, which his wife and kids fully experienced during an epic moose hunt. The down-to-earth Louela dedicated herself to her family. James is a brave boy, and even the prospect of meeting a bear in the old tunnel with snow, which the family needed to make ice cream, cannot scare him. For Roy, life in Valdez is a challenging experience, but he doesn't want to disappoint his father and older brother. Roy narrates his and James's escapades with humor and self-irony. The most amazing thing about the Taylors is that the young children did hard work on the construction site on par with the adults. The narrative has an element of uncertainty, and we root for this family to fulfill their dreams until the last page.

Pikasho Deka

Alaska is known for being America's last untamed frontier. In The Road to Courage, Roy Taylor shares his childhood experiences after he and his family moved to the Alaskan Frontier in 1953. This illuminating memoir begins with Roy's journey as a young boy who grew up in Cincinnati in his formative years. Roy's father, Andrew, was a shoe salesman before he found his calling in ministry life. The Stein family was organizing a Free Methodist congregation in Valdez, Alaska, and they asked the Taylors to help them build a log church. With a flatbed Chevy truck as their ride, the Taylors drove up the Alcan Highway, facing a few bumps along the way until they finally reached their destination. In Valdez, they slowly acclimatized to the beautiful yet harsh terrain of the Alaskan Frontier, hunting bears and fishing salmon.

Childhood experiences often leave a big impression on a person's psyche and play a prominent role in shaping them as adults. Roy Taylor gives readers a refreshingly unique perspective of family life in the Alaskan Frontier through the eyes of a child. In this riveting memoir, the author shares his experiences of learning to live in the hard environment of the Alaskan wilderness and growing up in a family that faced many challenges, particularly while building a church, yet remained bound together by love and faith. Roy's relationship with his family, especially his brother, James, is one of the book's highlights for me. It's clear that he always looked up to James, and the book follows their adventures and shenanigans, especially during the holidays. In conclusion, The Road to Courage is an authentic and inspirational memoir. It beautifully demonstrates the resilient nature of the human spirit. Highly recommended.

Bruce Arrington

The Road to Courage: A Boy's Adventures on America's Last Frontier by Roy Taylor begins when the author (Roy) is only four years of age. The year is 1953. Roy has an older brother. His father recently graduated from a theological school and is awaiting his first church to pastor. A friend from Alaska invites him to come and build a church there. So he and his family embark on an adventure from Louisiana to Valdez, Alaska. There they settle and live their lives. With little money to start with, it is interesting to see how the family manages to make the trip, especially when they have to pay five dollars for a hamburger! The tight-knit relationships between the family are apparent, as well as their faith in God to bring them through all of this.

First of all, my hat goes off to the author and editors of the book. The writing style is flawless and I can tell everything has been well edited. I am amazed at the detail the author remembers at only four years of age while setting the tone of adventure, the unknown, doubts, and fears. The book reminds me of A Christmas Story in some ways because of how it is told. There are many parts I thought were comical, and Roy's mother has to take on a decisive role at times for the safety of all of them. At first, I wondered if this was going to be one of those “learn-the-lesson-from-me-and-never-do-this” types of books I’ve read before, but it isn’t. It is a detailed memoir of a boy and what life was like when he lived it. If you have an appetite for adventure and clean reading, The Road to Courage: A Boy's Adventures on America's Last Frontier by Roy Taylor is for you. Highly recommended.