A captivating, often hilarious novel of family, loss, wilderness, and the curse of a violent America, Dave Eggers' Heroes of the Frontier is a powerful examination of our contemporary life and a rousing story of adventure.
Josie and her children's father have split up, she's been sued by a former patient and lost her dental practice, and she's grieving the death of a young man senselessly killed. When her ex asks to take the children to meet his new fiancée's family, Josie makes a run for it, figuring Alaska is about as far as she can get without a passport. Josie and her kids, Paul and Ana, rent a rattling old RV named the Chateau, and at first their trip feels like a vacation: They see bears and bison, they eat hot dogs cooked on a bonfire, and they spend nights parked along icy cold rivers in dark forests. But as they drive, pushed north by the ubiquitous wildfires, Josie is chased by enemies both real and imagined, past mistakes pursuing her tiny family, even to the very edge of civilization.
A tremendous new novel from the best-selling author of The Circle, Heroes of the Frontier is the darkly comic story of a mother and her two young children on a journey through an Alaskan wilderness plagued by wildfires and a uniquely American madness.
©2016 Dave Eggers (P)2016 Random House Audio
"Adept at literary reinvention, Eggers steers his ongoing social critique in an especially liberating new direction in this comedic outlaw odyssey.... Over the course of Josie's hilarious and scathing inner monologue about the depravity of our species, Eggers offers glimpses into her molten sorrows, including the death of her favorite patient in Afghanistan and a decimating malpractice lawsuit. As this trio of surprisingly resilient fugitives careens haphazardly from peril to refuge and back again, Eggers, writing with exuberant imagination, incandescent precision, and breathless propulsion, casts divining light on human folly and generosity and the glories and terror of nature. This uproarious quest, this breathless journey from lost to found, this delirious American road-trip saga, is fueled by uncanny insight, revolutionary humor, and profound pleasure in the absurd and the sublime." (Donna Seaman, Booklist)
"The frontier in Eggers's appealing and affecting new novel is Alaska, but also, arguably, the adventures of its heroine, Josie. The core of the novel is relatable to anyone who has thought about starting over in an unknown place...[Eggers's] writing is fresh and full of empathy, his observations on modern society apt and insightful." (Publishers Weekly)
"Josie, a dentist, is numbed by a shot of existential Novocain when she heads to Alaska with her two children at the start of Dave Eggers's latest novel. The heroine is running from a past that includes a breakup, a lawsuit that ends her dental practice, the haunting death of a young man...and a fog of overall detachment.... Along roads dotted by warning signs for wild animals, Josie takes her kids north in an RV, dodging police, wildfires and other hazards." (The Wall Street Journal)
The best way to describe this book is with the word unresolved. It is beautifully written and wonderfully conceived, but nothing gets resolved. The protagonist is left with no resolution regarding her sister, the power company lawsuit, where she is headed, or her feelings of guilt regarding the death of Jesse.
She feels shame about enjoying sex, for having been caught in that act by her son. She is ashamed of not being the perfect parent or knowing the right decisions to make. She is a bundle of nerves and emotions she hasn't even begun to investigate. While I don't expect a happy ending, how about ending where the story naturally ends not in the middle of nowhere with absolutely no resolution to any problem or question that has arisen.
Kudos on being a writer that can express emotion and convey meaning through setting and dialogue. Honestly I found Josie, Paul and Ana beautiful and individual and wonderful unto themselves. However I damn you for not finding the ending this story deserved.
A good friend of mine recommended this book to me so I wanted to like it. She thought the writing was great. I thought it seemed contrived at times, like it was trying too hard to be clever. I was frustrated by Josie, the protagonist...I wanted her to get a grip, to be a parent, to make some rational decisions. And I felt the story just stopped at the end--I wanted more closure, to know that all the ramblings had been worth it for Josie and her kids, that they could fit into some niche in society again. But I was just left with questions and emptiness for them. I'm sorry, but I can't recommend this book.
I have read all of Dave Eggers books and I just did not like this story. Sort of all over the place and not his best work. Would not recommend. The narrator was very good though.
Ramblings of a confused woman roaming thru Alaska. Don't waste your time or money. She drives an old RV with one boring stop after another. I can listen to most anything but gave up on this one after chapter 8.
A dispiriting story of one of life's losers - I only listened to 3 hours, but 3 hours of unhappiness and bad choices was more than enough.
Hope to find something about someone I can better identify with, or maybe a nonfiction.
Someone more matter-of-fact, less emotionally invested in Josie.
The book has a good plot, but, told in the first person, the main character appears foolish and overly prone to drawing generalizations and simplification. I wasn't sure whether Eggers was being serious about the internal dialogue of a woman coming of age, or whether he intends the reader to think, "Oh come now, seriously?" After finishing, his appears a serious voice, the flipped image of the male writers of the 50's, 60's and 70's who could only idealize women.
I did enjoy his descriptions of late summer weather in Alaska, as well as his descriptions of music in non musical form. Like a musical composition, the climax of the book takes place, as in the chord progression of a coda, through scenes of increasing tension until the final resolution. Here, Eggers unfortunately lapses into serious schmaltz. The narrator's breathless reading does not help. I have not read much of his writing, so I do not know if this is a pattern with him. However, I am interested in reading more of his writing.
The voice of the narrator was flat, the story was flat. I would like to return this.
I haven't a clue.
Maybe if the characters had come to life faster, the voice flatness would have been less annoying.
Please do not ask me that question.
Not likely - although I could appreciate the syntax and the writing style, the characters were not enjoyable nor were their situations plausible.
Eggers constructs interesting narration - in theory; his lead character in crisis had potential but developed into another useless traveler, taking her sheep-like children down a dead-end road. Unfortunately at his low points, Eggars turns repeatedly to satellite characters who have issues with bowels or fecal fetishes - why? The potential was there, but the result leaves one feeling not even remotely please by having taken this journey.
A mother runs away from her deteriorating life-situation on Ohio and takes her two young children on an unplanned and under-resourced escape to a strange and distant land, which happens to be on fire. The main characters, as well as some more-or-less incidental characters, are vivid. The character development of the two children is remarkable. The atmosphere of small towns in the northern wilderness is true to reality. The destructive and unpredictable fires drive the action: a beautiful afternoon of living-room music ends abruptly with an evacuation order and sends the family off to yet another unknown Alaskan town.
This book is nothing like anything else I have read from Dave Eggers. Perhaps others who have read more of him will find it more recognizable.
The narrator's voice and delivery are excellent.
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