Beyond the Bear: How I Learned to Live and Love Again after Being Blinded by a Bear

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Overview

A 25-year-old backcountry wanderer, a man happiest exploring wild places with his dog, Dan Bigley woke up one midsummer morning to a day full of promise. Before it was over, after a stellar day of salmon fishing along Alaska’s Kenai and Russian rivers, a grizzly came tearing around a corner in the trail. Dan barely had time for “bear charging” to register before it had him on the ground, altering his life forever.

“Upper nose, eyes, forehead anatomy unrecognizable,” as the ...

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Beyond the Bear: How I Learned to Live and Love Again after Being Blinded by a Bear

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Overview

A 25-year-old backcountry wanderer, a man happiest exploring wild places with his dog, Dan Bigley woke up one midsummer morning to a day full of promise. Before it was over, after a stellar day of salmon fishing along Alaska’s Kenai and Russian rivers, a grizzly came tearing around a corner in the trail. Dan barely had time for “bear charging” to register before it had him on the ground, altering his life forever.

“Upper nose, eyes, forehead anatomy unrecognizable,” as the medevac report put it.

Until then, one thing after another had fallen into place in Dan’s life. He had a job he loved taking troubled kids on outdoor excursions. He had just bought a cabin high in the Chugach Mountains with a view that went on forever. He was newly in love. After a year of being intrigued by a woman named Amber, they had just spent their first night together. All of this was shattered by the mauling that nearly killed him, that left him blind and disfigured.

Facing paralyzing pain and inconceivable loss, Dan was in no shape to be in a relationship. He and Amber let each other go. Five surgeries later, partway into his long healing journey, they found their way back to each other. The couple’s unforgettable story is one of courage, tenacious will, and the power of love to lead the way out of darkness. Dan Bigley’s triumph over tragedy is a testament to the ability of the human spirit to overcome physical and emotional devastation, to choose not just to live, but to live fully.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In 2003, outdoor-loving Bigley nearly lost his life in a savage bear attack in Alaska, the gory details of which are difficult to read. The animal not only bit but actually chewed on Bigley’s head. The horrific injuries, which claimed his eyesight, required multiple surgeries to repair. This moving memoir of his experiences, coauthored with journalist McKinney, is more about Bigley’s emotional recovery and beyond-impressive triumph over adversity. Although his very survival was in doubt after the mauling, Bigley manages to weather the painful aftermath and the blow of learning that his sight is gone forever, thriving in the end. He completed a master’s program in social work with straight-A grades, and now works as a director of therapeutic foster care, overseeing 60 homes. The woman who was his girlfriend at the time of the attack is now his wife, and mother of their two children. Readers will appreciate Bigley’s inspirational and well-written story. Agent: Elizabeth Evans, the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency. (Apr.)
From the Publisher

“This book is surprising in so many ways - heartfelt, funny, buoyant, tragic and triumphant - that after awhile I wanted to do nothing else but read it and be inspired and enthralled. And so I was.”

—Kim Heacox, author of The Only Kayak and Visions of a Wild America

“Combine a man shaped by an extraordinary experience with a writer adept at weaving the threads of his story and the result is a stunningly powerful book. Beyond the Bear may compel you to worry less about all the bad things that could happen in life and focus instead on embracing its possibilities. You might as well buy extra copies for you will soon want to give others the gift of this insightful and riveting read.”

—Jill Fredston, author of Rowing to Latitude and Snowstruck

 

Beyond the Bear delivers in gut-wrenching detail the harrowing account of one of the most horrific bear attacks in recent Alaskan memory, but the book is so much more than a bear mauling. Beyond the Bear is a powerful love story and an unforgettable tale of hope and resilience, a triumph of the human spirit in the darkest of hours. A life destroyed in a blinding flash of blood and fur. A bright and beautiful Alaskan landscape seemingly darkened forever, the midnight sun all but extinguished, yet Dan Bigley’s courage and heart take us all beyond the bear and along the way we all learn to see the world in a new and beautiful light.”

—Don Rearden, award-winning author of The Raven’s Gift

“Beyond the Bear is far more than another ‘bear chew’ book; it’s a compelling, finely crafted tale of survival and redemption, a worthy addition to Alaska literature.”
—Nick Jans, author of The Grizzly Maze and A Wolf Called Romeo

 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780762784554
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/17/2013
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 241,140
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Dan Bigley is director of therapeutic foster care for Denali Family Services and was awarded a 2008 Alaskan of the Year Award by the Governor’s Committee on Employment and Rehabilitation for People with Disabilities. He lives with his wife and two young children in Anchorage, Alaska.

Debra McKinney is a freelance writer who was part of a team that won journalism’s highest honor, the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, for the Anchorage Daily News. She and her husband live in Palmer, Alaska.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2013

    I enjoy reading true survival tales. This book was so exciting,

    I enjoy reading true survival tales. This book was so exciting, I read it straight through. I visited Alaska wilds and witnessed its raw dangerous yet beautiful experience. I had my own encounter with bears, and could really feel how things could have ended different for me. There are tales of fishing to satisfy the sports minded, there are adventures to satisfy the physically fit and adventurous, there is a sensation you are stepping into the untamed beauty Alaska has to offer, and romance to satisfy a woman. I have been recommending this book to my family and friends, and hope many other people experience this terrifically written book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 17, 2013

    Dan Bigley's story is incredible and Debra McKinney's writing is

    Dan Bigley's story is incredible and Debra McKinney's writing is amazing--the two together create one phenomenal memoir. I was glued to the book the moment I got it, finishing it in two sittings and only putting it down to sleep. I was breathless to know what happened, and  both laughed and cried countless times as I whipped through the pages. This book is perfect for anyone who enjoys love stories, survival stories, natures stories, inspirational stories... basically, anybody. There is so much of value "beyond the bear"--it's a book worth pondering, rereading and passing around to friends and family.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2014

    Bearclan warrior's den

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  • Posted May 17, 2013

    Very Inspiring

    This is way more than a tale about a bear attack. The trials and tribulations as Dan deals with his new life situation are inspiring. His refusal to let this devastating injury take him away from the things he enjoyed in life should be motivation to us all. The way Bigley and McKinney weave in the viewpoints of the others involved in the attack, rescue and recovery makes for a riveting read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

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