The Sun Is a Compass

Review From User :

I love a good adventure story and if it involves ice I'm in. Caroline Van Hemert's memoir The Sun is a Compass is a beautiful and thoughtful exposition on her love of the Alaskan wilderness and the 4,000-mile journey she and her spouse shared over six months. The memoir transcends the typical story of man (or woman) vs nature, for Van Hemert also documents her struggle to find her life path--will she be content in a research career, what about children, how long will their bodies allow them to follow their hearts

Working in the field as a student, Alaskan native Van Hemert became interested in ornithology, and in particular why so many chickadees beaks were misformed. Lab work was soul-deadening. She and her husband Peter, who at eighteen trekked into Alaska and built his own cabin by hand, had long discussed a dream journey from the Pacific Northwest rain forest to the Arctic Circle. Before Van Hemert decided on her career path they committed to making their dream a reality.

Their journey took them across every challenging terrain and through every extreme weather imaginable, bringing them face-to-face with predator bear and migrating caribou, driven near crazy by mosquitoes swarms and nearly starving waiting for food drop-offs. But they also met hospitality in far distant corners and saw up close a quickly vanishing ecosystem.

It is a story of a marriage, as well; how Peter and Caroline depended on each other while carrying their own weight--literally, with seventy-pound supply packs.

I enjoyed reading this memoir on so many levels. Van Hemert has written a profound memoir on our vanishing wilderness and the hard decisions women scientists must make.

Learn more about the book, see a trailer, and read an excerpt at

I thank the publisher who allowed me access to an egalley through NetGalley.

Media Size : 36.5 MB