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Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite
Winds of Skilak Volume 2 is the continuation of the memoir of Bonnie Rose Ward and her husband Sam’s adventure on Caribou Island in the middle of Skilak Lake, deep in the wilds of Alaska. These two modern-day pioneers literally carved a living out of nothing on Caribou Island. At times, especially in winter, Bonnie and Sam would be the only occupants of this lonely, snow-swept and freezing part of the Alaskan wilderness. Like true pioneers, Sam and Bonnie would build their own cabin, hunt and track all sorts of wildlife for food, plant and harvest their own vegetables, and live the true life of adventurers on the very frontiers of civilisation. Although they occasionally would have company to break the loneliness and the daily grind of living “off the grid,” for the most part it was the indomitable belief this couple had in each other and an unshakable faith that would sustain them through many trials and tribulations.
As a reader, I find all memoirs quite fascinating – it's like being invited in to share the most intimate parts of a stranger’s life and thoughts. When the memoir details experiences as rich, diverse and, for us simple city dwellers, so outside of our comfort zones as Winds of Skilak Volume 2 does, the pleasure is doubled or even tripled. I haven’t read Volume 1, but that certainly wasn’t important. Right from the first page of this story, you are drawn into a world far from anything few of us will ever experience. I marvelled at the sheer grit and determination of both Sam and Bonnie Rose Ward. For Bonnie, living out in that wilderness, with little or at times no other female company on the island, was tough, but she took it all in her stride with humour, faith and a positive attitude. Her writing is fresh, clear, and even she admits to not having the words to describe many of the beauties of the Alaskan wilderness. As someone who can only ever dream of an adventure like this, I love the fact that Bonnie and Sam, vicariously through this book, allowed me to share in theirs. If you love true life adventure tales, this book is an absolute “must-read” for you.