Following the 2016 presidential election, writer Heather Lende, inspired to take a more active role in politics, runs for assembly member in Haines, Alaska-and wins. But tiny Haines-a place accessible from the nearest city, Juneau, only by boat or plane-isn't the sleepy town it appears to be.
In this fraught, bewildering American era, Heather Lende’s latest memoir is a blessed balm ... Lende is a graceful and endearing writer, recapitulating the kind of wily, folksy wit and wisdom we associate with, say, Mark Twain, so much more powerful than the predictable 'gotcha' snark of our social media age ... Most of all, Lende’s account resonates for its respect for every Haines resident who cares enough to show up at assembly meetings or her house to advocate, campaign or complain ... What a blessing Lende’s view of democracy, which she calls 'glorious chaos,' is in this dark era. 'So much depends on people of good will, and they are everywhere,' she writes. She reminds us about the dreams we share, especially now, as we cry for, and struggle to save, our beloved country.
Heather Lende offers a down-to-earth account of life in local politics in her fourth book set in Haines, her small Alaska town ... In chapters that feel like diary entries, including both workaday details and the author’s emotional state, Of Bears and Ballots meanders through Lende’s three-year term without much of a story arc ... At its best, the book showcases Lende’s folksy style and keen understanding of her small town’s culture ... This book will likely appeal more to Lende’s existing fans than to new readers, who are better off starting with her earlier books that deal with more lively topics.
Journalist Lende...delivers a detailed and amiable chronicle of her three-year term as assemblywoman in Haines Borough, Alaska, a municipality of roughly 2,500 people in the state’s southern panhandle ... Lende successfully balances the dry facts of assembly reports with humorous character sketches and lyrical odes to the natural beauty of Alaska. 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.'