No Fences in Alaska, by Glen Sobey, is a classical coming-of-age novel that traces a young, wild-child from her shenanigans in San Antonio, Texas to the wild great outdoors of the Alaskan hinterland. Harper Lyons is a typical sixteen-year-old rebellious child. Feeling rejected by her God-fearing, strict parents, Harper set out, from the age of twelve to show them there was nothing they could do to stop her rebellious nature. Expelled from her Father’s strict Christian school, Harper begins a wild ride of drugs, alcohol, sex, and throwing herself at any good-looking male in the hope of finding the love she so desperately craves from her parents but seems so unable to find. When Harper discovers she is pregnant and the baby’s father wants nothing to do with her anymore, she realises an abortion is the only hope for her. Texas, however, has strict abortion laws that require parental consent but Harper is too terrified to even tell her parents she is pregnant, let alone ask for an abortion. Discovering Alaska has no parental consent rules for abortions, she decided to contact her Grandfather, Cooper, who has had no contact with the family since Harper was six to try to wheedle a way into getting sent to Alaska to be with him. Cooper, who is suffering his own difficult trials, is thrilled with the idea of seeing his family again and so begins a voyage of discovery for both Grandfather and Granddaughter.
This is the second Glen Sobey book I have read and No Fences in Alaska greatly fulfilled the promise I saw in this author’s first work. This story is tough, uncompromising and at times, harsh but it is told with such love and compassion, the characters were so easy to identify with. I love the author’s conversational writing style and his willingness to confront teenage issues that we so often sweep under the table, head on. Harper, was a character that you loved to get angry with. It was so easy, as a reader, to identify with her Dad, Greg’s anger and frustration at her behaviour but Sobey quickly showed us that underneath all the teenage rebellion and lashing out was a young woman whose heart was crying out for love, for comfort and just generally for a family. This story will pluck at your emotional heartstrings and on more than one occasion you will find your eyes watering as you become intimately involved in the real-life, everyday struggles these characters are dealing with. One of the best parts of being a professional editorial reviewer is the opportunity to watch writer’s grow and expand their abilities as they stretch their literary boundaries. I definitely see that in Sobey’s second book and I can only say that it is one of my favourite reads of the year and I definitely look forward to more from this incredibly talented author. This is definitely a book every teenager and every parent could benefit from reading and I can recommend it most highly.