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A simple reminder of the immense power of a child’s
love, which can last through terrible neglect.—Time
When Julia Scully was nine years old, her father committed
suicide, and she and her sister were remanded
to an orphanage. Two years later, emotionally damaged
by the isolation and brutality of the orphanage,
the girls followed their mother to the near-wilderness
of the gold-mining territory north of Nome, Alaska,
where she had leased a roadhouse in the tiny town of
Taylor. Julia had no idea what to expect when she arrived,
but to her surprise, she found a healing power in
the stark beauty of the vast tundra, while she reveled
in the boisterous, chaotic boomtown atmosphere that
prevailed when thousands of American troops descended
on the town at the outbreak of World War II.
Outside Passage is a lyrical and affecting memoir of
those years, simultaneously an emotional portrait of
a young girl’s first steps into adulthood and a unique
portrait of a vanished frontier life.
This reviewer values the book most for its novel contribution in the detailed ethnography of one roadhouse. . . . Nome, described at length in the author’s gifted prose capturing sites, sounds, smell, weather, the surrounding landscape and the feel of life, gains equal attention with the roadhouse. . . . [A]n unvarnished true story.