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Summary and book reviews of Of Bears and Ballots by Heather Lende

Of Bears and Ballots

An Alaskan Adventure in Small-Town Politics

by Heather Lende

Of Bears and Ballots by Heather Lende X
Of Bears and Ballots by Heather Lende
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  • Published:
    Jun 2020, 288 pages

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Book Summary

The writer whom the Los Angeles Times calls "part Annie Dillard, part Anne Lamott" now brings us her quirky and compassionate account of holding local office.

Heather Lende was one of the thousands of women inspired to take a more active role in politics during the past few years. Though her entire campaign for assembly member in Haines, Alaska, cost less than $1,000, she won! But tiny, breathtakingly beautiful Haines—a place accessible from the nearest city, Juneau, only by boat or plane—isn't the sleepy town that it appears to be: from a bitter debate about the expansion of the fishing boat harbor to the matter of how to stop bears from rifling through garbage on Main Street to the recall campaign that targeted three assembly members, including Lende, we witness the nitty-gritty of passing legislation, the lofty ideals of our republic, and how the polarizing national politics of our era play out in one small town.

With an entertaining cast of offbeat but relatable characters, Of Bears and Ballots is an inspirational tale about what living in a community really means, and what we owe one another.

★ ONE★
Election Day

THERE ARE TWO polling places in Haines. One is in the arts center lobby, on the hill above the harbor and cruise ship dock, the other at the re hall in Mosquito Lake, a woodsy rural settlement twenty-six miles out of town. I voted at the arts center and said hi to everyone as I walked in, but I didn't say, "Wish me luck," or anything close to it. The public radio station, KHNS, and signs on the street corners reminded residents that no campaigning was allowed at or near polling places. One neighbor, who lives in an old house with a wide porch on Soap Suds Alley, was asked by the borough clerk to remove campaign signs from his yard since his home was too close to the polls. I did notice who was there voting, though, friends and foes, and wondered which side of the Haines left-right divide would be victorious. Either way, a little more than half of us would be happy, and a little less than half would be disappointed. Haines is predictable; I assumed it ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A memoir from an idealistic older woman who won political office for the first time...Written in her usual sprightly, witty, humble, effervescent style, this one will please the author's fans.

Publishers Weekly
The result is an honest and inspirational investigation into why "it's easy to say what's wrong with government; it's harder to fix it, and progress can be very slow."

Library Journal
A heartfelt ode to civil service. Recommended for readers interested in government, civil service, and small-town life.

Author Blurb Tom Kizza, New York Times-bestselling author of Pilgrim's Wilderness and The Wake of the Unseen Object
Heather Lende has the voice of that friend down the street you love to chat with over coffee—the one who knows everything going on in town, but also knows the difference between gossip and storytelling.

Author Blurb Melody Warnick, author of This Is Where You Belong
Heather Lende's brave, big-hearted book about her run for local office fairly bursts with affection for her place and its people. By the end you'll be torn between wanting to move to Haines, Alaska, and wanting Heather to take the helm of your hometown." -

Author Blurb Bruce Botelho, former Mayor of Juneau, Alaska
An uplifting reminder that democracy works in America. While its setting is an extraordinary landscape of mountains, glaciers and the waters of Lynn Canal, the political scene and the cast of characters Lende captures will find resonance in every corner of America." -

Author Blurb Bill McKibben, author of Falter
Citizenship—real, active citizenship of the kind we badly need—is hard work, as this book makes clear. But it's also rewarding in a profound way; hopefully this will inspire people to work with and for their neighbors in all kinds of ways!" -

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