Book Review: My Northeast Passage
Reviewed by Jadidsa Perez
An immersive, reflective memoir that takes you around a rapidly changing world
Centered around travel, compassion, and the understanding of one’s neighbor, Frances Fischer’s debut memoir is an inspired work that reminds us that precious moments live forever.
Following the death of her first husband, Frances feels like a person without a plan. In search of one, she turns to the greater world outside of Tucson. Arizona. Set in the 70s and beyond, this memoir highlights goes a flurry of experiences, from historic events to moving to Denmark, to discovering fresh feelings of hardship and love. Fischer details her life frankly and openly, very much an open book.
“Then I fully realized how lost I was, how alone in the midst of all those good intentions, how pulled in half and the other half had forever gone missing.”
This memoir is filled with engrossing and educational details regarding how life felt during this time period. Through impeccable storytelling, Fischer discusses a number of important topics relevant to the time like how women were expected to dress in college and which issues were bubbling to the surface at the time of her own personal growth.
There’s a lot of conversations in the text about how Americans are discerned in different countries, mainly Ireland and Denmark, a thought-provoking insight on American expats.
Reading this memoir feels like sitting next to a relative as they flip through an album and help you feel the memories. What once had slipped away into the universe of forgetfulness for them returns briefly and vividly in their retelling.
“And of course we often find meaning in love—in family, in the children we create through love, in the person we fall for.”
At times, the timeline of this memoir can cause some confusion. There are large time-jumps without much warning between chapters. Without much in the way of date and location notifiers, it can be a bit difficult for readers to feel guided through the story, especially since they are not always in chronological order. This could result in the need to re-read. It also feels a bit misleading in that the the actual northeast passage that Frances takes with Jacob is rather short even though it’s marked as the titular experience. A lot of the sentiment in the memoir is also a product of its time and may not be digestible for every audience, especially when it comes to Frances’s arguments with Jacob.
Readers looking for a nostalgic trip down memory lane will appreciate Fischer’s storytelling and her discussions on what was happening in the world at the time. For those who haven’t grown up in the time period of the book, this book goes a long way in making sure we leave this memoir having learned something valuable.
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Genre: Memoir / Travel
Print Length: 454 pages
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