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No Fences in Alaska

ISBN: 978-1-68433-297-7

Their worlds are about to come crashing down…

At sixteen years old, Harper Lyon’s life is spinning out of control. She threatens her parents with suicide unless she can meet her drug-dealing boyfriend, a college student who doesn’t know she’s pregnant.

Cooper Lyons, her estranged grandfather, lives in rural Alaska with only his dog and cat for company. He has just been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s, and he doesn’t plan on letting the disease run its course. 

Harper needs to escape her parents and decide what to do about the baby. She and her grandpa are worlds apart, but they may be exactly what the other needs.

When Harper calls her grandfather, he welcomes the opportunity to help her and redeem his previous failure with his daughter Heather, who died from a drug overdose years ago. 

Can they save each other?

No Fences in Alaska— Reviews

5 Star Review from Readers' Favorite: No Fences in Alaska by Glen Sobey is a stunning literary piece of work and a brilliant YA novel realistically portraying the trials of a dysfunctional family. The raw and untamed wilderness of Alaska is a beautiful backdrop and perfectly sets the mood for the story. I was enamored with the setting and impressed with how it perceptively symbolizes the ultimate expression of freedom and living life in the extreme. With the possibility of danger hidden within the deceptive beauty, the imagery mirrors the reality of living life on the edge. I loved Cooper's character and was inspired by his philosophy. His premise embraces unconditional love despite circumstances and actions, encouraging us to consider extending beyond our ego and accepting others' unwise decisions without faulting them. It is a profound and thought-provoking concept. Filled with love, romance, danger, rebellion, betrayal, and redemption, this exciting and stirring story will thrill everyone over the age of sixteen who likes strong characters who push their limits and face the odds.

5 Star Review from Foreword Reviews:

A love letter to family relationships and Alaskan life, No Fences in Alaska is a gratifying young adult novel.

Glen Sobey’s young adult novel No Fences in Alaska is a coming-of-age story set against the arresting backdrop of the Alaskan wilderness.

Harper is sixteen and full of youthful rebellion. Her father’s hurtful choice to expel her from their family’s Christian school drove her to sex, drugs, and some reckless friendships. When she discovers that she’s pregnant, she decides that she cannot handle another night of yelling with her father. She calls the last person anyone expects: her father’s estranged father, Cooper.

Cooper has lived alone in Alaska for years, but he offers to take Harper in at a time when her parents are at their wit’s end. In the Alaskan wilderness, Harper and Cooper try to give each other the space and love they need to heal—Harper from the consequences of her choices, including her unplanned pregnancy, and Cooper from the symptoms of early onset dementia. In a dark turn, Harper also grapples with the negative powers of the internet and blackmail, particularly because of her cruel ex-boyfriend, Zachary. The whole family has to consider what it means to love unconditionally and figure out how to mend their relationships, many of which have been broken for years.

Harper and her father, Greg, are the story’s first core. Despite their mistakes, neither is vilified. Their choices are frustrating but understandable, including Harper blackmailing her boyfriend in order to get away from him and Greg restricting Harper’s freedom in order to keep her safe. Skillful flashbacks result in growing understanding of how things got so bad. Cooper, while he acts as somewhat saintly in Harper’s present, is also complex and flawed.

The story progresses at a satisfying rate. Every moment of despair and sorrow is connected to the potential for hope. The book’s humor is well-timed, and the prose is clear and active. Introspective scenes follow characters on their own, particularly Harper and Cooper, and add balance to the text. Details about rural, free, and unencumbered Alaskan life are textured and evocative, even Utopian at times.

An unpredictable and original spiritual thread runs throughout the story; it is faceted and nuanced, and it results in uplifting moments. Holding attention to its realistic and satisfying end, this is a resonant story.

A love letter to family relationships and Alaskan life, No Fences in Alaska is a gratifying young adult novel.

Starred Review from Blueink Reviews:

Ruin, redemption, love and forgiveness are themes that weave themselves beautifully together in Glen Sobey’s young adult novel, No Fences in Alaska.

The book centers on the lives and trials of the Lyons family, particularly Harper Lyons. Harper is the 16-year-old wild child of extremely strict parents; her father, Greg, is headmaster of a conservative Christian academy in San Antonio. She is also the granddaughter of the crazy, artistic Cooper Lyons.

When the novel starts, Harper is rebelling with drugs, sex and partying, and after a feigned suicide attempt, possible date-rape and pregnancy, she runs off to Alaska to be with her grandfather, whom she hasn’t seen for a decade. Cooper himself is fighting the onset of dementia and has been living with the regret of a daughter who died of a drug overdose and a failed marriage. As Cooper and Harper's relationship develops, they help each other to heal and grow.

Simply put, this is a gorgeously written book. The characters are believable and well developed, and their dialogue rings true. While some plot points can seem contrived, readers will buy into them because of the characters’ believability. One of the main characters, in fact, is the setting of Alaska itself: “The trees lining the open field had recently sprouted leaves, fluttering in a rich unblemished green, lighter than the dour spruce needles nearby. For those who had endured the long winter, green-up was the most magical time of year.”

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t fit neatly into a single genre, which could impact its readership. While its perspective is slanted towards the Christian faith, it also includes profanity, premarital sex and drug use, among other divergent thematic elements.

Nevertheless, Sobey delivers an engaging read that fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone and Amy Harmon and Robyn Carr’s flawed characters seeking redemption in rugged places and small towns, will particularly enjoy.

All told, readers will find No Fences in Alaska impossible to put down.

Review from Authors Reading:

No Fences in Alaska by Glen Sobey is about a sixteen-year-old rebellious teenage girl named Harper whose life choices and actions alienates her from her immediate family and also culminates in an unplanned pregnancy. It’s an inspiring story of a brave young mom who manages to grow in grace and wisdom as the unexpected new life grows within her.  It is a coming of age novel overflowing with encouragement for any teenager going through or involved in a similar situation.

The story weaves together the lives of two individuals at opposite ends of life’s journey; young beautiful Harper is blossoming with new life while her grandfather, Cooper, is fading away in the winter of his existence.  Cooper is dealing with the first stages of dementia and his inevitable demise, while Harper is discovering what it means to bring forth new life into the world.

Since discovering her pregnancy, her previous carefree life has radically changed. Her new situation will be the impetus that moves her from a gated Texas community in San Antonio, a city of malls, fast food restaurants and one point five million residents to a small town in Alaska where one of her first impressions was seeing an older man and a teenage boy walking down the road with AK47’s slung over their shoulders. Harper was shocked to see people carrying guns in the open and finding out it was legal and common in this new land she was now a part of. To her amazement, her grandfather told her that the boy was given his AK47 as a birthday gift when he was just 13.

Cooper’s relation with his granddaughter is of great importance to him. He was a man who had lived a life focused on the creation of art, literature, and other endeavors involving the creative use of his mind. The fact that he might soon lose those abilities made his time spend with Harper that much more poignant. He wanted to be useful and not thought of as a burden. Also, suicide was festering away in his brain; it was his planned way to exit his time on earth.

There is a great deal of bonding between Harper and Cooper. She learns that granddad was a pot-smoking hippy in his youth and occasionally still partakes in smoking marijuana. In fact, they both share a joint between them on a very eventful hike into the Alaska wild. A journey where she comes face to face with a moose and comes to terms with her predicament.

A new love interest, named Gabriel, enters Harper’s life who unflinchingly embraces the darkest parts of her life and accepts that she is pregnant. Will he ultimately turn out to be like Zachary who treated her only as an object of lust and wanted her to abort the baby?

Sobey transforms Harper through her pregnancy from a rebellious teen to a young woman of beauty, grace, and compassion. He pens a gorgeously written novel on love, loss, family relationships, keeping secrets, and most of all, love. This dazzling novel dares us to understand the fragility of life, the intimate losses, the small battles, and the daily human triumphs that change us the most. “Masterful!”

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