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Coffee-Drunk or Blind’s Back-of-book Description:
An incredible true tale of the journey of one family’s travel and destiny of homesteading the Alaska wilderness in the mid-twentieth century.
“It’s hard to believe that Mother and Daddy pulled a two bedroom house trailer behind a truck , with a camper built into the bed, for four thousand forty miles, with four children in tow – ranging in ages two to six. The trip began on June 17th, 1959, at six o’clock a.m., with one thousand dollars and a credit card.”
That is a pretty short back-of-book description, so I’ll expound a bit further – This book is a collection of letters and memories from one family’s experience with driving to and homesteading in Alaska. While we only have one side of the correspondence (the mother), we do have one of the author’s input on the conversations between each letter, as well as the other children’s memories at the end.
The title is pulled from a line in one of those letters – “Whether he was coffee-drunk or blind, I’ll never know…”
I was given a free copy of Coffee-Drunk or Blind in exchange for my honest review.
My first thought when receiving this book was that I was probably not the target audience – I’m not incredibly outdoorsy, I hate being cold, I love modern conveniences, and I’ve never been that interested in moving to Alaska. But I opened it and started reading anyways.
And I gotta tell ya, that first thought was not accurate. I found this book kind of exciting and entertaining. I know it’s a real account of a real family’s experience, but I found it easy to get absorbed in, much like I do with fiction.
There were a few times when I was a little irritated about not knowing what some of the things being referenced were; like a pack board or a cat skinner – which I found at the very end (literally) was a slang term for a bulldozer operator. Also the reference to certain names was confusing at times, since I hadn’t been previously briefed on who that person was.
But I was able to look past those simple irritations and really appreciate the fact that I was getting a peek inside a really unique experience in the life of a family who lived a real “wild-west adventure” – except in this case the wild west was snowy, cold Alaska.
I didn’t love the title – that is until I saw the line in one of the letters (just another example of not judging a book by the cover… or title).
I also wish there was more clarification on things between the letters. But I understand that the author was pretty young when this was all going on, so it makes sense that she wouldn’t be able to remember every little thing.
I appreciated Coffee-Drunk or Blind for the fun, interesting glimpse into homesteading life. And I can see it being equally appreciated by others as a gift, or an addition to your nonfiction library. At less than 200 pages it’s not a huge time investment to learn some new, thought-provoking things about life and the struggles of settling in a new place.
Buy it now!
Favorite Quotes From the Book
“We’re between the devil and the deep blue sea.”
“You are the pattern they are trying to mold their own lives with.”
“All the hardships we have been through… has been the making of worthwhile human beings, of all of us.”
“Fools names and fools faces are always seen in public places.”
Overall I would give Coffee-Drunk or Blind 2.5 out of 5 stars (points taken away for editing errors – though I’m sure they’re pretty easy for some people to ignore, it personally drives me crazy).
It was interesting, and easy to read. I would recommend it to people who like non-fiction accounts of early American life (even though this story is only about 40 – 50 years old, Alaska was pretty undeveloped at the time). I also think it’s great for people who are especially interested in the idea of frontiers, stories of family struggle, or books involving non-fiction correspondence.
Thank you for taking the time to read the review! Check out the Pinterest pin-able quotes below!