Touching the Clouds (Alaskan Skies #1)
By: Bonnie LeonPublisher: Revell
About the book:
Kate Evans is an adventurous and independent young woman with a pioneering spirit. When she leaves her home in Washington State to follow her dream of being an Alaskan bush pilot, she knows it will be an uphill battle. But she never expected it to be quite like this. As the lone woman in a man’s world, she finds that contending with people’s expectations is almost as treacherous as navigating the wild arctic storms.
When she crosses paths with a mysterious man living alone in the forbidding wilderness, she faces a new challenge. Can Kate break through the walls he has put up around his heart? And will fear keep her from realizing her dreams?
Book 1 in the Alaskan Skies series, Touching the Clouds will draw you in with raw emotion and suspense, all against the stunning backdrop of the Alaskan wilds.
Kate Evans is an unconventional woman living in a most unusual time. With the country in the middle of the Great Depression, she longs to make a living doing what she loves most – flying, a most uncommon profession for a woman. Running from painful memories and seeking to make her mark on the world, Kate leaves her parents’ farm in Washington State and takes off for Alaska with the goal of making a living as a bush pilot. When she arrives in Alaska, making her dream a reality proves to be more difficult than she’d imagined. From coping with the prejudices of those who question her piloting ability because she is a woman, to surviving Alaska’s ever-changing, dangerous nature, Kate fights to prove herself at every turn. As two romantic possibilities emerge, Kate has to decide if she can conquer her past fears in order to fully embrace life in her adopted home.
Touching the Clouds represents two first-time experiences for me. It’s my first time to read a Bonnie Leon novel, and it is the first time I’ve come across a novel with this unique setting and time period. If you’re interested in Alaskan history, there is an abundance of historical fiction available set during the 1800s, but this is the first I’ve come across set during the 1930s – and I really do love reading about this time period. The Depression and the challenges that faced people during this time, coupled with a unique profession like Kate’s, make for fascinating reading. When reading about Kate’s struggles to establish herself as a pilot, I kept remembering the 1939 Cary Grant/Jean Arthur film, Only Angels Have Wings, about a band of mail pilots in South America. While the settings couldn’t be more different, Leon does an excellent job capturing the feel of a rough-and-tumble flying operation, similar to Grant’s outfit in the film. The challenges and unexpected situations pilots face, as well as the camaraderie that can develop among individuals bound by their love of such dangerous work, is well developed throughout the course of the novel.
The best way I can think to describe Clouds is that it reads like a “slice of life” story. The biggest obstacle faced by the main characters are their own internal fears and struggles – and sometimes that’s just the way life is, working through issues with victory to be found in getting through each day. That is Kate’s story. I do there had been more relationship development in this book – the romantic element, while barely there, felt really rushed at the end of the book – but perhaps there is more to come in future novels. The strength of this story is Leon’s research. The flying sequences really shine, and Kate’s wildly varied adventures as she learns the ropes of being a bush pilot – from assisting in a birth to wilderness survival – are my favorite parts of the book. Leon subtly weaves the theme of relinquishing fear and living in faith through the lives of her characters, who are very real, broken people in need of restoration. Well-drawn characters and an endlessly fascinating setting make Touching the Clouds shine – I look forward to the sequel!