When you first meet 18-year-old Donna Lane in the opening pages of My One Square Inch of Alaska, you realize that this Midwestern high school senior growing up in the 1950s has a lot on her plate. Since her mother’s death seven years ago, her father has become a broken man and an alcoholic. Donna waits tables several nights a week to support her father and her younger brother Will. She keeps up with her studies and earns extra money sewing alterations in a dress shop in hopes of one day moving to New York to begin a career in fashion design.
As Donna pursues her dream of becoming a fashion designer, Will collects cereal box tops for a contest; the prize is a deed to one square inch of land in the Alaskan Territory. He plans to rescue a mistreated junkyard dog, a mute Siberian Husky, and take the dog with him on this journey.
Donna thinks her little brother’s plans are childish. But when he grows ill, Donna is committed to making her brother’s dream come true. It is this point in the book when her greatest exploration begins. Her determination to make it to Alaska is inspiring, and she takes readers along for an exhilarating and challenging adventure.
Not only will young adults enjoy this heartwarming, family-oriented novel, but author Sharon Short will take baby boomers back to the 1950s, reminding them of their own coming-of-age experiences.
I recommend this book to the individual reader, as well as to a book club looking to encourage thoughtful discussion about the memorable characters and events, and as a catalyst for club members to share their own stories and similar experiences from early adulthood.
The novel is a new creative direction for Short, who is the “Literary Life” columnist for the Dayton Daily News and author of the Josie Toadfern and Patricia Delaney mystery series.
My One Square Inch of Alaska by Sharon Short is available for preorder from Penguin Group for a list price of $16.