Balancing on the Edge

eowyn-iveyEowyn Ivey’s new novel is a journey and adventure into the wilderness of Alaska and the depths of the human heart. When Sophie Forrester agrees to marry an army man in the 1800s she thinks she is going on his mapping expedition to Alaska with him. When she is told she will have to stay behind they are both devastated. Wife and husband will take separate journeys in an effort to explore the unknown while trying to find their way back to each other.

Sophie and Allen are introduced to us through their own journals and letters of descendants who want to make sure their story is preserved for history. The relationship between the relative and the museum curator, husband and wife, army captain and team, and Alaskan explorers and First Peoples are mixed together with historical excerpts from books, photographs, and artifact descriptions. This novel is a museum within two covers of a particular time and place, and the heartaches and struggles that transcend both. Questions for Discussion:

  • What did you think of the structure of the book? Did the short segments make it easier or more difficult to read?
  • With which character did you most identify? Why?
  • What do you think gave the man with the top hat power?
  • With what modern issues did Sophie and Allen struggle? How do you think their story would change if they were alive today?
  • What was the significance of the marble bear for Sophie?
  • What did you picture when she described the hummingbird photo? What do you think that photo meant to Sophie?
  • What were the ramifications of Allen’s journey through Alaska? Why do you think they brought up the Indian Wars? As readers, what message do you think you were supposed to take away?

More on the author:

Review from the Washington Post

Watch the gorgeous book trailer

Join Eowyn Ivey again in the wilds of Alaska and the human heart in her fairy tale and  human tale that create an unforgettable novel.


Published by

Christine Thomas Alderman

Christine Thomas Alderman is a writer and educator working in Texas. She holds a graduate degree from Harvard University. Her work was long-listed for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and included in their anthology: To Carry Her Home. She won the Cynthia Leitich Smith mentorship from the Austin Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Find her at

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