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Independent Press Award

2024 Distinguished Favorite

Paddling with Spirits - A Solo Kayak Journey

Irene Skyriver

Inspired partly by her own spirit of adventure, and partly by the stories of her native coastal ancestors, Irene Skyriver celebrated her fortieth year of life with a solo kayak voyage, paddling from Alaska to her home in Washington’s San Juan Islands. Paddling with Spirits: A Solo Kayak Journey interweaves the true account of her journey with generational stories handed down and vividly re-imagined. Beginning with her great-grandmother’s seduction of an Indian fighter turned trader, and following her ancestors on both sides through oil booms, orphanages, wartime romances, dance halls and cattle ranches, Paddling with Spirits dips like a paddle itself between the stories of those who inspired her, and Irene’s own journey down a lonely coast. As she encounters harsh weather, wolves, bears, whales, and the wild beauty of the coastal waters, she reflects upon her own life and on the lives of the many people she meets along the way before her final, triumphant return home. Paddling with Spirits is a wild, brave, and thrillingly original adventure.

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