An engrossing memoir of Kusz homesteading in Alaska with her parents and three siblings. In 1969, when Kusz was six, her father--a Polish immigrant and survivor of the Holocaust--decided to move his American family out of L.A. to find a more wholesome way of life. Kusz's family was unusually close-knit, and revered self-sufficiency, hard work, cooperation, and friendship. Their first winter in Fairbanks was extremely harsh, spent living in a trailer and shed with no electricity or running water, scavenging at a dump on a nearby Army base for discarded blankets, clothing, and C-rations, pawning all their musical instruments, as well as rifle and pistol, to buy food. Also that winter, Kusz was attacked by a neighbor's sled dog--permanently altering her life. She lost one eye, her cheekbone, the hinge in her jaw, and was not expected to live. Ten years of reconstructive surgery followed. After her return to school, Kusz was rejected socially for her appearance and fell into a pattern of alcohol and drug use, and promiscuity. She gave birth to a daughter at 16, and took the child with her when she matriculated at the Univ. of Alaska at age 17. All through this time, her family's attempts to build a house on land they had bought were frustrated again and again by economic woes, bad weather, and bad luck. And when they finally did build, the actual work was done by Kusz's father and mother, herself, and her two younger sisters and brother. Finely written and entirely without self. pity--a gripping account of modern-day pioneering and old. fashioned values.