No Fences in Alaska by Glen Sobey

No Fences in Alaska

No Fences in Alaska
by Glen Sobey

417 Pages

Young Adult/Coming of Age/Contemporary

Published by Black Rose Writing (4th July 2019)

Purchase from | Amazon AU * | Amazon US *Amazon US * | Amazon UK| Booktopia *| Book Depository * | Fishpond AU * | Dymocks |



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My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Black Rose Writing, and the author via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Actual rating of 4.5

Harper Lyons is sixteen years old, and she’s a hottie, just ask any of the boys that know her. A party girl through and through, all that Harper cares about is partying, looking hot, getting high, and her college aged boyfriend – Zachary. So when her parents try to stop her leaving the house to meet with him, she threatens them with suicide, this starts her down a rocky road that will change the course of her life. When she soon finds out that she is pregnant, she panics. There is no way in the world that she can tell her parents, they will never understand, so she does the only thing she can. Contacts her estranged Grandfather, Cooper Lyons, that she hasn’t seen for ten years who lives in Alaska. Cooper lives alone with his dog – Snowball, and his cat – Houdini. He has recently been diagnosed with early-onset dementia and he doesn’t plan on letting his disease run it’s course, he’ll shoot himself first. So when he receives a call from his Granddaughter, asking for his help, he can’t say anything but yes. A story that follows a teenager who is off the rails, a man who feels that he is losing everything, and the relationship that saved them both.

I’ve had this one sitting in my review pile for a good while now, I knew that it was probably going to be fairly deep in it’s themes, so I needed to be ready to read it. I was not wrong. I cried through the last few chapters of the book, and I had to sit for a little while to try and come back to the real world once I’d finished. I’m going to open this review by noting trigger warnings, as this is a hallmark read – though it does have some semblances of one in it’s cheesiness at times – this story deals with loss, death, drug use, underage sex, wild and domestic animal deaths, mention of rape, miscarriage, abortion, sexual abuse, guns, underage drinking, and suicide.

I’m not going to lie, for the first third odd of this book, I absolutely HATED Harper. I wanted to throttle her and ask her what she was doing with her life, and how she was affecting her younger siblings while doing it. I wanted to punch her father and tell him to pull his head out of his arse and act like a father instead of a displeased prison warden. I’m not gonna lie, this book made me feel SO many emotions, and to be honest, I think I’m still trying to process it all. Harper’s parents are religious, though her father wasn’t always, he became religious because of her mother who was raised Christian. Harper’s father – Greg – is the headmaster of a christian school where Harper was expelled from. This caused a rift between them because Harper had to try and deal with everyone knowing she was the headmasters daughter and assuming how she would act towards things and activities because of this. It gave her the sense that she had to prove everyone wrong in their assumptions, which assisted in leading her into her out of control lifestyle. Greg didn’t help things, he constantly yells at her. Because this book is written in third person, we get a glimpse into everyone’s thoughts, I couldn’t help my overwhelming need to scream at the characters at all times to just stop yelling at each other and freaking TALK. To tell each other how they really feel instead of acting out and pushing each other away in the process. Then I realised, there are some parent/child relationships that are like this. I’m lucky. I’ve always known that I could go to my parents with anything, and while they couldn’t promise to not be angry, I knew that they would help me. Harper didn’t have this. She became to self dependent that she felt unloved and unwanted by her parents. I can’t help but think of how lucky I am. So the characters were well written, they are all beautifully flawed and they seemed so much more real because of this. We all know I love a flawed character. Cooper is such a gentle soul and it broke my heart every time he had a dementia episode. A character that Harper meets in Alaska was a liiiitttlllleee unbelievable in that he’s only 18 yet he’s ready to take on someone else’s child for a girl he’s just met, but I guess, it could happen, so I’m not going to complain about it. Each character had their own distinct voices and had a level of dimension to them that made me feel like I was reading a real account of someone’s life, at times.

The story was enthralling. It’s an emotional rollercoaster that at times had me so angry I wanted to throw my phone, so happy that that I couldn’t stop smiling, and so sad that I cried. It’s a story not only about a pregnant teenager who has gone of the rails, but it explores why. It explores the family dynamic and family relationships and also how important it is to tell those around you that you love them because you might not get another chance. It’s a story about a girl who was abused, who didn’t realise it, who was seeking out love in all the wrong places, and she didn’t know why. It’s about there being just ONE person in her life that she could turn to for help in her darkest moment. It’s about how one person has the power to save a life without even realising it. This is a story of regret, love, hate, anger, illness and loss.

I did feel that at times the religious side of the story was a little bit on the nose and heavy handed. Harper’s grandfather on her mother’s side is a zealot who believes God should be feared. I’m not religious, but I don’t believe that true Christians see God as someone to be feared, so I instantly hated this character for that. While I feel that the religiousness of certain characters definitely added a much needed element to the story, I feel that the praying and reliance on God could have been lightened up a little, it almost felt like it cheapened the story a little bit at times.

I felt like the ending was a little bit rushed. It was almost like the story had cruised along a nice pace and then the ending needed to happen NOW. I also feel like the even near the end (which started my tears) was not needed. The reappearance of a certain character which resulted in a death felt more as though it was added in for a bit of shock factor which I couldn’t understand the point of. I still don’t get why this scene was included because it didn’t add to the story in anyway. I felt like it took us a few steps backwards from where the characters had finally reached. While I had a feeling that this death scene and another one were unavoidable at some point, it didn’t make them hurt any less.

Yes, there were a fair few predictable things that happened in this story. There was some incredibly cliched and cheesy things as well. But I feel it just added to the beauty of the story. Sometimes we don’t need unpredictable, I don’t believe a story including predictable story lines or cliches that have been used a million times over make a book a bad one, this one certainly wasn’t.

All in all, this is an emotional story about familial bonds and trying your hardest to be the best version of your self that you can. We don’t all get it perfect the first go, sometimes you’ve gotta try again. We are the only ones who can change the things in our lives that we aren’t happy with, no one else can do it for us, but they can be there to lend a helping hand when we are ready.

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