Of Bears and Ballots: An Alaskan Adventure in Small-Town Politics
When Heather Lende (If You Lived Here, I'd Know Your Name; Find the Good) decides to run for a borough assembly seat in her hometown of Haines, Alaska, she jumps into local politics with the same delightful zest and enthusiasm that characterize her writing in Of Bears and Ballots. She's lived in this small town for almost 30 years, she's written three popular books about it. She knows most of the 1,600 residents and has written obituaries about her friends and neighbors for the local paper since 1997. Her goal is to be a politician who says "Why not? We can try that. Let's listen."
Unfortunately, her foray into small-town government coincides with the election of Donald Trump and the virulent political divisions that have spread across the country--even affecting a spot as idyllic as Haines appears to be. "Some people," Lende says, "can create a conflict out of anything," and conflicts both large and small begin to rock her community. Development and environmental concerns become viciously at odds, and Lende discovers that people she's known and liked for years now view her as a liberal politician who ought to be recalled from office. With piercing candor and remarkable good humor, Lende pulls away any sentimental veil that might obscure the realities of small-town politics.
"Democracy! It's glorious chaos," the owner of the local paper observes. It's testimony to Lende's special gift that, in spite of the pain and sadness involved in her political adventure, she leaves her readers with that same conclusion. --Janet Brown, author and former bookseller