BOOK REVIEW: Too much story in an otherwise interesting story …

Every human being has a personal story, but not every story should be a book.

Such might be the case regarding “North of Hope” by Shannon Huffman Polson (published by Zondervan), or at least not in the heavily chronicled format in which it has gone to print.

First, let me state “North of Hope” is an intensely personal story, and I admire Polson for revealing to her readers what she has about the most difficult aspects of her personal journey. It’s a story of a woman who, as a girl, developed a deep attachment to her father, especially after her parents divorced. Making her dad happy was a (if not the) driving force in her life. So when her father and stepmother were tragically killed by a rogue bear in the remote wilderness of Alaska, Polson’s life was upended.

As a means of working through her grief and attempting to right her life after such a tragedy, Polson decided to traverse the Alaskan wilderness by rafting down a river to the place where her father and stepmother were killed. The telling of the story weaves back and forth between Polson first learning of the tragedy and life afterward, and her wilderness journey.

That’s where the reader can get bogged down.

Not in the back and forth of the story-telling, but in the great amount of detail Polson puts into telling her story. In painting thorough word pictures for her readers, Polson delves too deeply into the more mundane setting of the story. You’ll learn more about Alaska than you need to know, as well as about the details of Polson’s trip and earlier life. Providing a full context for a whole story is important, but this book simply buries the reader in too much detail.

As a result, some of the connection the reader could have with the writer is lost. Had Polson kept her story-telling cropped more closely to her personal experience, rather than all the detail surrounding her experience, the reader would have likely gained a greater insight about the author and a deeper sharing of her journey. The personal story is there, it’s just smothered with too much unnecessary information.

Some readers will connect with this book regardless of how much detail they will have to wade through to encounter the personal aspects of the author’s life, but I’m afraid many will become weary with the amount of effort it will take to finish this volume.

With respect to Polson, who’s personal story is a remarkable one, “North of Hope” is weighted down with too much minutia to be broadly recommended.


I received this book free from Handlebar as part of
their book review bloggers program. I was not
required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed
are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal
Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use
of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”