Bering Sea Strong: Sometimes a Woman Has to Board a Fishing Boat to Find Herself by Laura Hartema
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received an eARC of this title from the publisher through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review. The book comes out in March 2018.
I was poking around my review titles for non-fiction to read during Non-Fiction November and this caught my eye. I had recently booked a trip to Alaska and wanted to read more about it, and here was a book set north of where I will be! The life of the commercial fisherman is one of the hardest there is. Laura quotes a statistic that it has the fatality rate, and that half of the deaths in the profession take place in the Bering Sea. Yet this is where she decided to work on a commercial fishing boat, measuring and counting as the "observer," no less in danger than those pulling the fish from the sea.
Plus she is the only female on board! I was a bit surprised at her lack of preparation for some of the practicalities related to this, but she was honest. And maybe she was more focused on being fearless than on being practical. She learned a lot.
Threaded throughout the recounted tales of fishing are pieces of Laura's life story, from her childhood to failed attempts to pursue a graduate degree. This is a good look into what life is like in one of the most extreme places there is.
Cross-reference: I read a 19th century account of one of the first non-indigenous women to travel to this same region, and she stopped at the Pribilof Islands, which is south from where Laura and her crew are fishing. The challenges were slightly different - hunger, cold, seals - but I just kept thinking of these two women together. You can read that account here: Libby: The Sketches, Letters & Journal Of Libby Beaman, Recorded In The Pribilof Islands, 1879 1880,
View all my reviews