TISHA: The Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaska Wilderness by Robert--as told to Specht

TISHA: The Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaska Wilderness

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This one gets a GP rating for family fare, kind of like one of those neighborhood movies--Adventures of the Wilderness Family. It might be called the ""novelized autobiography"" of Anne Hobbs, who as a nineteen-year-old girl, in 1927, ventured forth to teach in a one-room schoolhouse in the former gold-rash settlement of Chicken, Alaska. It is a truly nice story--no cynicism intended--of guts, generosity, adventure, and the awesomeness of the elements. Where a trace of cynicism does creep in is that Robert Specht (""as told to"") is a Malibu screenwriter who admits to altering the facts ""only when I deemed it dramatically necessary."" One misses the roughness of an authentic voice; the artlessness of the first-person narrative is just a little too smooth, like historical fiction written for adolescent girls. Nonetheless, Tisha (it's how the Indian kids said ""teacher"") does capture the exhilaration of Alaska's cold and space, the poignancy of old sourdoughs who never did hit paydirt but love the country, the earthy comedy, and camaraderie, of the frontier (every stream in this vastness has its tin cup). There's even some genuine and harrowing frozen-North rescue drama as Tisha passes her initiation from cheechako--greenhorn--to full-fledged Alaskan. But the central drama is Anne Hobbs' stubborn struggle against the amazingly vicious frontier prejudice: her insistence on admitting Indian kids to the school, adopting two of them, and falling in love with a half. Eskimo boy nearly gets her kicked out of town. Didn't, though. She still lives in Chicken.

Pub Date: May 5th, 1976
ISBN: 0307434664
Publisher: St. Martin's