This stark, philosophical work chronicles Aspen, an artist and daughter of the author-adventurer Connie Helmericks, who, 16 years ago at the age of 22, chose to sojourn into the wilderness of Alaska, above the Arctic Circle, and live off the land. Aspen was accompanied by her first husband-to-be Phil; her harsh, relentlessly honest journal depicts two stoics who ate salted and dried horse meat, berries, and raw, rubbery moose that contained "the wriggly pearl of a maggot." The couple encountered no other humans for almost a year, and in that time the author sought the " 'essence' of experience . . . that elusive something that makes the world sparkle." Aspen believed that civilization snatches away more than it gives in return: "I'm not certain that all our toys are worth what we pay for them." Rather, she endured the brutal weather and exulted when the sun returned after a 60-day absence: "Life isn't safe, no matter how carefully you plan. . . . You may as well enjoy the ride." Aspen's journey isn't pretty reading, but her voice is memorable and her endurance marvelous.
This is the best book I have read on a sojourn in the Arctic wilderness. It makes you want to go there, do that. Aside from the poetry of the writing, the book has an unforced sense of humor. I laughed out loud many times. I recommend Arctic Daughter to all and sundry.