Tuesday, October 2, 2012

An Alaskan Review of "Our Sarah: Made In Alaska"


Determined to give an honest review and not to allow my friendships with the family influence my review of the book, I found it difficult in reading the first few pages not to notice similarities between what was being described, and what I know of the authors. “Fish out of water” feelings in describing the surreal nature of being thrust into the limelight, and the journey of their lives to this point described in ways I’ve witnessed in person, affirmed this book is truly written from the heart of these authors, not just from memory. Personal connections (and difficulties in the timeliness of my review) aside, I endeavor to review “Our Sarah: Made In Alaska.”

Being “Alaskan” is hard to describe to those outside without the typical clichés – the adventure, the rugged landscape and the people who inhabit it, and the lifestyle. I believe it’s all these things that make it hard to describe what it’s like to live here and become a part of it, but this book has done a very good job of describing the components that make up that pioneer spirit. Every person’s walk through life is different, and every Alaskan’s path is even broader. Not gushing over Sarah Palin’s accomplishments, but rather weaving a tale of their life’s journeys, you are left to the realization that each step in life forms us, shapes us, into who we become. We use these influences to make the decisions that affect ourselves and others. The how’s and why’s of Sarah Palin’s decisions as an individual and political influence are left to the reader - the book is a journey you take with Sarah Palin’s father and brother into who she has become. Not spending a lot of time gushing over Sarah and how exciting it is to be a family member, but more time telling Alaskan stories that build a framework of how Sarah came to be the person she is. This book is as much about living life in Alaska and taking all the best things from it, as it is a telling of how that lifestyle shaped who Sarah Palin is today.

The well-known topics of faith, patriotism, family, and a love of outdoors and sports, are dealt with affection and care. This is not a book that tells you why she is who she is – it’s more a book of discovery. While their writing styles are different, each chapter brings you closer to understanding more about Alaska and the Heath/Palin family.

While I personally know Chuck Sr. better than I do his son, I was surprised at some of the things revealed in this book – stories I’ve never heard and things about both their pasts that led to “ah ha” moments and put things into perspective. One of the things I’ve always enjoyed when being around Chuck Sr. are his stories – his ability to tell any tale. He is one who has a gift for being able to recount an event and not make the listener feel as if he is being told a “fish story,” but rather someone who has a sage wisdom about that of which he speaks. You’re privy to a piece of living history in the stories he recounts. His son is an amazingly good writer and does an excellent job of making this book enjoyable while telling his version of growing up, “Alaska Style” in the Heath household.

If you think you’ve heard it all, and read it all – think again. This book makes the picture clearer than ever before, told by those who lived it and were there, not by those who admire or have their own agenda. It led me to appreciate and understand them, and Sarah Palin, even more.

There will be those Alaskans (and those outside), particularly in the media, who will read this review and others and form their own opinions from the reviews – not the book. The comparisons will come as well as some negative meme, and that is truly unfortunate. As an Alaskan, I ask that you read the book and form your own opinion. We Alaskans enjoy our independence and free spirit – it suits us well. After reading this book you can’t help but have a better understanding and appreciation for the foundation that Sarah Palin’s family and their experiences have given her, and this book is a testament to that.

(Tracey Porreca is an Alaska resident and founder of Alaskans4Palin. Our Sarah: Made In Alaska was provided for review by MNS)

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