January 11, 1991 at 05:00 AM EST

Road Song

Current Status
In Season
Natalie Kusz
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Memoir, Nonfiction
We gave it an A

An author in her 20s probably has no business writing an autobiography unless, like Natalie Kusz, she has a heroic past and a stunning literary talent. Kusz’s story hinges on her mauling at age 7 by an Alaskan sled dog, an incident that cost her an eye and many years of reconstructive surgery. The tale is also about about her quirky, adventurous family, who left a stable life in Los Angeles to homestead in Alaska. Kusz eloquently describes the shifts in her family’s emotional weather, from the effects the mauling had on her siblings, to her parents’ confusing responses to her teenage pregancy, to the family’s recovery from her mother’s untimely death.

The family’s regular encounters with hardship strengthened their bond; they built their house by hand, played music together, and in times of trouble, consulted the Bible — which may explain the soothing, unhurried rhythms of Kusz’s superb narrative. A

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