Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood, One Grown-up World, One Long Journey Home

Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood, One Grown-up World, One Long Journey Home

by Leigh Newman
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Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood, One Grown-up World, One Long Journey Home by Leigh Newman

Part adventure story, part love story, part homecoming, Still Points North is a page-turning memoir that explores the extremes of belonging and exile, and the difference between how to survive and knowing how to truly live.

Growing up in the wilds of Alaska, seven-year-old Leigh Newman spent her time landing silver salmon, hiking glaciers, and flying in a single-prop plane. But her life split in two when her parents unexpectedly divorced, requiring her to spend summers on the tundra with her “Great Alaskan” father and the school year in Baltimore with her more urbane mother.

Navigating the fraught terrain of her family’s unraveling, Newman did what any outdoorsman would do: She adapted. With her father she fished remote rivers, hunted caribou, and packed her own shotgun shells. With her mother she memorized the names of antique furniture, composed proper bread-and-butter notes, and studied Latin poetry at a private girl’s school. Charting her way through these two very different worlds, Newman learned to never get attached to people or places, and to leave others before they left her. As an adult, she explored the most distant reaches of the globe as a travel writer, yet had difficulty navigating the far more foreign landscape of love and marriage.

In vivid, astonishing prose, Newman reveals how a child torn between two homes becomes a woman who both fears and idealizes connection, how a need for independence can morph into isolation, and how even the most guarded heart can still long for understanding. Still Points North is a love letter to an unconventional Alaskan childhood of endurance and affection, one that teaches us that no matter where you go in life, the truest tests of courage are the chances you take, not with bears and blizzards, but with other people.

Praise for Still Points North
“Newman has crafted a vivid exploration of a broken family. . . . Her pain will resonate strongly with readers, and she vividly brings both Alaska and Maryland to life. . . . A natural for book clubs.”—Booklist
“Newman’s adult search for her own true home is riveting, as are her worldwide adventures; it’s a joy to be in on the ride.”—Reader’s Digest

“What really sets this fearless memoir apart is the heartfelt, riotously funning writing, which will have you reading passages aloud, and rooting for Newman all the way.”—O: The Oprah Magazine

“Newman writes so lucidly about bewilderment, so honestly about self-deception, so courageously about fear, so compassionately about insensitivity, so hilariously about suffering and loss. Still Points North is a remarkable book: a travel memoir of the mapless, dangerous seas and territories between childhood and adulthood.”—Karen Russell, Pulitzer Prize finalist for Swamplandia!
“A wise, refreshing and enjoyable read.”—New York Daily News
“[Newman is] at her best bringing to life the chapters on her near-feral Alaskan upbringing. You can practically smell the freshly killed game.”—Entertainment Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400069248
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/19/2013
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 683,341
Product dimensions: 6.44(w) x 9.22(h) x 0.95(d)

About the Author

Leigh Newman is the deputy editor and head of books coverage for Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, Tin House, and The New York Times’s Modern Love and City sections.

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Still Points North: One Alaskan Childhood, One Grown-up World, One Long Journey Home 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Sara_Goff More than 1 year ago
I’ve tried writing from the perspective of a child and can attest that it isn’t easy for an adult to stay consistently in a young person’s mind, to sound believable, and still be insightful and engaging. It’s a balancing act that Newman has mastered. Even in the voice of her younger self, she inspires, challenges, and makes you fall in love with her. Newman’s silent cry for love and acceptance from her divorced parents had a haunting effect on me, perhaps because I, too, am a product of divorce and the back-and-forth routine. That said, her story is incredibly unique, and her experiences in Alaska, at times life-threatening, make you open your eyes wide and hold your breath. In addition to her beautiful writing and the delicacy with which she portrays human nature, Newman lands with a solid and satisfying ending. Still Points North is a worthy and entertaining read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in my English class and I absolutely loved it. Leigh Newman's honest, humorous, and easy-to-read style will captivate you from the beginning to the end. A beautiful story that's honest about the complexity and flaws of the people around us. A definite must-read. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was expecting it to be about the area and the authors memories; but it was more about family dynamics. I'm so sorry she had to deal with this and I hope this was cathartic for her to write it. I'm sure others may like it but it just was not what I was expecting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book so much that I couldn't put it down on my last flight. It's such a pleasure to dissapear into the heart and mind of this sensitive, thoughtful writer. Whether you've been to Alaska or suffered through your parents divorce or not, you will find her insighr both brave and surprising.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great story of how a confused child of divorce finds escape as an impossible path to happiness. But also a story of the power of unconditional love in saving a child as an adult. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
abySB More than 1 year ago
A hard childhood but obviously one she enjoyed for the most part. Very dangerous at times and her father obviously forgot some basic safety precautions at times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am not a native English speaker; which makes it always more difficult to enter into a new book. Here it is not. A smooth entrance. Writing is fluid. It is an "invitation au voyage" to the far North, but also to the complex internal world of childhood, the weight but also the strength of the influence of the parents. Always subtly described ... Cannot wait to finish the book. A great memoir!
jenncainJC More than 1 year ago
Liegh Newman has the Saturday pancake smile and twinkle-in-the-eye of a tomboy who grew into her own unique version of womanhood. I feel like she wrote this book for me, for us - her peers who grew up loving the outdoors with our dads, then moved away in pursuit of professional dreams and complicated, urban lives. The story made me nostalgic and long for a simpler time of community and connectedness, to our families, to our friends and to the earth. Thank you Leigh for reminding me that the journey that starts from home can help me find my way back to who I really am. Pick up a copy today and dive into the delicious nostalgia! Jennifer Cain Birkmose