Dave Eggers presents a grand, heroic look at the threatening frontier of Alaska that is ironically both frozen and constantly fraught with forest fires. Simultaneously, he presents within Josie, a single-mother perpetually on edge of either a nervous breakdown or looking to succumb to rampant alcoholism, the heroic, and all-too human, qualities of running away while running towards. All throughout Heroes Of The Frontier, Josie, along with her two young children, Paul and Ana, completely, and even triumphantly, does both.
Eggers manifests within the novel a philosophy of life, marriage, the tediousness of parenting, and, most importantly, the need to grab hold of that golden ring. Through Josie, we get quirky, and often times hysterical, looks at the insanity of a grade school event schedule, the requisite stupidity of musicals, the glaring monotony of dentistry – perhaps the daily professional grind we all must endure – and the absolute joy of singing, dancing, and communing with live music. Josie embarks on her hero’s quest, destination unknown, hoping to find herself while going off the grid, discovering unabashed kindness and typical American anger. She loves her children, but maybe isn’t the best of parents. She wishes to remove herself from society, but seeks out companionship. She drinks, too much and too easily, but she also laughs, and smiles, and, eventually, does her best to forgive.
Like all great stories, the finale comes sooner than expected. However, the ultimate ending escapes complete fulfillment as earlier steps in the journey might have been more resolute in the closing of the circle. Then again, maybe I did not want this tale to finish. I wanted the fierce mystery of Alaska to unwrap and unveil as Josie continues her eternal quest for resolution and her well-deserved happy ending, as do we all; all of us heroes in this unending frontier.