December 8, 2013

The Journey of Eleven Moons Review & Author Interview

Bonnie Leon is a fabulous, prolific fellow Oregon author who loves to dig into the fascinating stories of her ancestral past and weave them into timeless stories that intrigue while touching your heart.


The Journey of Eleven Moons is such a story, celebrating its 20th anniversary with a special new and updated edition, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Here's the Book Summary: When a tsunami washes away an entire village in Alaska during the 1850s, two young sisters must decide whom to trust. A successful walrus hunt means Anna and her beloved Kinauquak will soon be joined in marriage. But before they can seal their promise to one another, a tsunami wipes their village from the rugged shore … everyone except Anna and her little sister, Iya, who are left alone to face the Alaskan wilderness. A stranger, a Civil War veteran with golden hair and blue eyes, wanders the untamed Aleutian Islands. He offers help, but can Anna trust him or his God? And if she doesn’t, how will she and Iya survive? 


My review: The Journey of Eleven Moons
The Journey of Eleven Moons is a lovely, captivating story of love, loss, faith and courage set in the Alaskan islands in the late 1800s. Bonnie tells the story of Anna, Iya, and Erik well with an intriguing sense of place, allowing us to see life through a native Aleutian woman’s eyes and feel her fear and her need for courage to face an uncertain future. Though just 16, Anna is a strong but gentle young woman you can’t help but admire and root for. Her young sister Iya is a caring little girl you also can’t help falling in love with.

When a tragic disaster wipes out Anna’s village, Anna as sole survivor must take on the role of mother to her young sister and ensure their survival. She knows only life on the island and is dependent on the sea. She can do all the things she’s skilled to do—gather food and make baskets from grass and pouches and clothing from hides. But without the men and their ability to hunt, the girls cannot survive the coming winter on their own. They need help. And yet there is no one to whom they can turn—no one except a tall, handsome stranger, and yet the girls know full well not to trust “outsiders”.

Erik is quiet but strong with a kind heart. He too has suffered loss. Anna and Erik must unwillingly join forces to survive, working together as a team while facing treacherous conditions of both the land and sea, the threat of treacherous, heartless men, and the threat of becoming bound by love to someone you can’t have. Most of all, they must find the courage to surrender to a God who sees the beginning and the end when all they see is the frightening unknown.

This story brought tears to my eyes as I shared in the heartaches and the hopes of all three. I would love to see this book made into a film! I enjoyed it very much. What a touching, intriguing story!


This book is available at:


MEET BONNIE LEON!
Q: You’ve written several books that take place in Alaska. Why Alaska?
A: My heritage is Aleut, an Alaskan native. My grandmother and great grandmother were Aleut and they left a colorful and fascinating heritage for me. My mother is the only one in her family who left the state. She was only eighteen years old when she moved to Seattle during World War II. Talk about be brave.

When I jumped into researching the Alaskan culture and its people all the family stories came alive for me and I felt truly connected with my ancestors and the native culture for the first time. My heritage is part of who I am and I love sharing it with readers.


Q: Where did the idea for The Journey of Eleven Moons come from?
A: Most of my stories originate from real experiences or history. The Journey of Eleven Moons came from both. Alaska history is intriguing and even a little mysterious—a perfect back drop for any story.  Plus, one of the stories told by my grandmother has always stuck in my heart and mind. She lived in Unalaska and was a young woman when she stood on a bluff overlooking a small bay. Without warning the water in the bay receded and was soon followed by a powerful tsunami. The experience has always stayed with me and when I decided to write the story of The Journey of Eleven Moons that’s where began, there on that bluff with my grandmother.

Q: Just for fun. If you could have any super power what would it be?
A: What an exciting idea. I’d fly.

For those who know me, you understand how I feel about heights—I don’t like them. But being able to fly removes any fear of falling so I figure that my fear of heights would evaporate. And can you imagine how amazing it would be to have the freedom of flight? It would be like dancing in the air. I sometimes watch birds and marvel at their acrobatic skills, and their joy is evident as they swoop and glide and even spin. How I wish it were one of my special skills.

Q: If you could do one thing over, what would it be?
A: That’s a really difficult question (my daughter asked me this). I’m not certain. Right off the bat, I think I’d make sure not to be on Little River Road, the day the log truck hit my van. That moment changed my life in so many ways.

Since then, I’ve lived with chronic pain and disability. I really do not like that and sometimes I dream about what life would be like if only I’d never been hit by that truck. But I have to remember that God is sovereign. He didn’t just stand back and say, “Oh no. That truck is going to hit Bonnie. Oh dear! What should I do?” No. He had a plan and I trust Him. I don’t think I would have written if I’d not been hit that day. I turned to writing when everything else had been taken away.

So, the answer is . . . I wouldn’t change anything except maybe love others better. There is nothing that touches me that God has not allowed. And either I trust Him or I don’t.

Q: Where can readers order your new book?
A: The Journey of Eleven Moons is available on http://www.amazon.com in paper back and on Kindle as well as http://www.barnesandnoble.com.  You can order directly from Ashberry Lane Publishing at http://www.ashberrylane.com. And of course if your local store does not carry the book you can ask them to order it for you.

Q: Where can readers find you online?
A: I’m always available on my website at http://www.bonnieleon.com and on Facebook at http://facebook.com/BonnieLeonAuthor.


I love to hear from readers so I hope some of you will drop me a line.


MORE ABOUT BONNIE:
Storytelling has always been an integral part of Bonnie Leon’s life. From childhood, she cherished the legends and family history handed down through her Aleut ancestors. 

Throughout the ensuing years, Bonnie dabbled at writing but didn’t seriously consider becoming a professional author. Instead, as a young woman, she happily stepped into the full-time profession of homemaker and mother. Pollywog hunting, finger-painting, blackberry picking, and creating fun messes in the kitchen with her children are some of her most precious and irreplaceable memories.

When her youngest child was nine years old, Bonnie decided it was time to return to the working world. She took a position in her hometown of Glide, Oregon, working with the elderly and handicapped.

Then on June 11, 1991, her world was shattered when a log truck hit the van she was driving. The accident left her unable to work, and after months of rehabilitation she was told by physicians that she would never return to a normal life. Facing a daunting fight to reclaim her life and feeling as if she had nothing to offer the world, she asked God to give her something to do that mattered.

His answer came when she received a scholarship to attend the Oregon Christian Writer’s Summer Conference. That conference ignited Bonnie’s passion for literature and for writing, and she has been writing ever since.

ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF. . . .

RANDOM FACTS ABOUT ME:

I've published three novels and a novella (more about those on my website.) I've been writing all my life, but decided in 2007 to get serious about being published.

I love action movies and Jane Austen. (she’s dead, I know. I found that out when I tried to get her to endorse my novel)

They let me play Bass guitar and sing in a worship band.

I can produce 4 dozen homemade cinnamon rolls in a flash for a crowd of drooling young adults. Or publishing house editors.

I used to have a Harley. Now we have twenty-something kids. Decent trade, really. The window-rattling grumble isn't quite the same, but we are still enjoying the ride.

I am a proud Grammy. Don't even think about taking candy from my babies.

I hate shopping (Yes, I'm aware that I'm a girl)

MY ROOTS:
I've lived in Oregon all my life, spent time in Eugene (Go DUCKS!), Springfield, Reedsport, and Smith River. Which is not really a town, but a river, about 70 miles long, a tributary of the Umpqua River in southwest Oregon.

Although it's not a town, it is a community with a strong sense of pioneer history. It's cool to say you've lived there, especially if you lived there during the days when you had to take a boat to school. No joke! The old farmhouse my grandfather and my mother grew up in still stands, nestled into a narrow, pasture carpeted valley, complete with a swimmin' hole and its own 'crick'. It may turn up in one of my novels.

There's a rumor that my ancestors had a connection with the Mafia back in Sicily. I used to fantasize as a kid about a big black limo with tinted windows pulling up and whisking me away from school. Ahhh. So THAT'S why I'm having so much trouble conjugating my dangling participles now.

NOT RANDOM: I am challenged by the truth and amazed by the grace of God. And it's either in spite of or because of that grace that I hold a PhD in Learning Stuff the Hard Way.

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