Book Review: Homestead by Melinda Moustakis #Alaska

This is another book I read in December for Historical Novels Review, the magazine of the Historical Novel Society.

Anchorage, 1956. Marie is looking for a future, and Lawrence has a parcel of 150 acres from the State of Alaska. Both are aching for a home, and they decide to marry with little more than that between them. As they begin to work the land to earn the deed to their homestead, there is much they must learn. They not only have to carve a homestead out of unforgiving tundra, but they must also learn to know and love each other.

This is a saga of a man and a woman fighting a frozen land to claim a home for themselves, but it is so much more than that. We watch Alaska move toward statehood, and we see the sheer size and harsh realities of the territory. As Marie and Lawrence attempt to make a home, it is evident that there are problems even greater than the snow, cold, dark days, and wolves. As we watch them fight all these things, it becomes clear that there is a territory even bleaker than Alaska, and that is Lawrence’s heart.

The writing is sublime, and the reader is instantly transported to this dangerous land. But the human struggles are where this book really shines, as Marie and Lawrence battle loneliness, numbing cold, loss, and the one big lie that threatens to destroy everything. This is absolutely remarkable historical fiction that fans of Alaskan history will enjoy.

My rating is 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 on sites with no partial star option.

I received a free copy of this book from Flatiron Books via The Historical Novel Society. My review is voluntary and the opinions expressed are my own.


Melinda Moustakis was born in Fairbanks, Alaska, and grew up in California. Her story collection, Bear Down, Bear North: Alaska Stories, won the Flannery O’Connor Award, the Maurice Prize, and was a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 selection. Her work has appeared in American Short Fiction, Alaska Quarterly Review, Granta, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere, and has been awarded an O. Henry Prize. She is the recipient of the Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, the NEA Literature Fellowship, the Kenyon Review Fellowship, and the Rona Jaffe Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. Homestead is her debut novel.


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*This title will be released February 28th, 2023.

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Homestead by Melinda Moustakis #Alaska”

  1. Nice review. Sounds like the perfect recipe for a cozy and hilarious night in and a heartwarming reminder that no matter how daunting the challenges may seem, we can overcome them and make a home wherever our hearts take us.

    Liked by 1 person

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