BOOK REVIEW: Son of a Midnight Land by Atz Kilcher

Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Format: Paperback
Genre:  Memoir

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
352 pages
Buy:  AudiblePaperback 


A powerful new memoir about growing up with a hard father in a hard land

Atz Kilcher learned many vital skills while helping his parents carve a homestead out of the Alaskan wilderness: how to work hard, think on his feet, make do, invent, and use what was on hand to accomplish whatever task was in front of him. He also learned how to lie in order to please his often volatile father and put himself in harm's way to protect his mother and younger, weaker members of the family.

Much later in life, as Atz began to reflect on his upbringing, seek to understand his father, and heal his emotional scars, he discovered that the work of pioneering the frontier of the soul is an infinitely more difficult task than any of the back-breaking chores he performed on his family's homestead. Learning to use new tools - honesty, vulnerability, forgiveness, acceptance - and building upon the good helped him heal and learn to embrace the value of resilience.

This revised perspective has enabled him to tell an enhanced and more positive version of the legacy his father created and has him doing the most rewarding work of his life: mapping his own inner wilderness while drawing closer to his adult children, the next stewards of the land he helped his father carve out of the Alaskan frontier.


Unflinchingly honest Atz Kilcher talks about growing up with an abusive father on a homestead near Homer Alaska.  His father Yule and his mother immigrated to Alaska from Switzerland and built their homestead which now covers over 600 acres along Kachemac Bay.  Many of the Kilcher children and still live there, working hard and leading a subsistence lifestyle.  

Atz will be the first to admit he was not a stellar father to his kids, Shane, Atz Lee and Jewel (yes the singer). But over the years he has learned more about the legacies of abuse that he had been passing down from his father and decided to change.  He works hard every day to right some of the wrongs he felt he inflicted on his children and has established good relationships with them as adults and has a good connection with his grandchildren.  Atz even made peace with his father, Yule before he died. 

His love of Alaska and the way he lives is evident in this book and while he isn't proud of some of his behaviors he is proud that he has taught his kids to survive in the wilderness and that many of them have chosen to continue the homesteading legacy that his father created and he and many of his siblings kept alive.   

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