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Heroes of the Frontier

Dave Eggers

Heroes of the Frontier

Dave Eggers

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Heroes of the Frontier Summary

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Heroes of the Frontier (2016), a novel by American author Dave Eggers, tells the story of a dentist in the midst of a failed relationship who decides to pick up her life and move to Alaska with her two children. The novel follows the family as they drive through Alaska in their RV.

The novel opens by introducing the reader to the protagonist, Josie, and her two children, Paul and Ana. The three of them have just moved from Ohio to Alaska. Many factors contributed to this decision, including the fact that Josie recently lost her dental practice after a lawsuit. She is also holding on to feelings of guilt for having encouraged a young man named Jeremy to enlist in the military. Josie recently found out that Jeremy was killed in the line of duty.

Josie made this executive decision as she had grown tired of her mundane life and fed up with her attachment to Carl, the father of her children, whom she failed to notify before moving to Alaska. Although Carl was never interested in marriage when he and Josie were together, she learns that he is planning to marry his new girlfriend. This it the final straw for Josie, who knows that she must take drastic action to regain control of her life.



Josie isn’t exactly sure what to do with herself now that she has arrived in Alaska. She has rented an RV, which is now home to her, Paul, and Ana, as they drive around, exploring the unfamiliar landscape. The only person that Josie knows in the area is Sam, whom she refers to as her stepsister. In reality, she and Sam grew up in the same house together after having emancipated themselves from their families.

While on route to Sam’s house, an old fisherman, Charlie invites Josie and the kids to watch a magic show on his boat. When they finally arrive at Sam’s house, Josie is impressed with how orderly Sam’s life seems to be. She has a beautiful house and two well-behaved children. However, Josie sees a different side of Sam when she takes her to a local bar where Josie discovers that Sam is having an affair with an elderly man. She decides to leave the bar and walk back to Sam’s house, but on the way, she is nearly hit by a passing truck. When she wakes up in the hospital, she finds Sam by her bedside, who informs her that the hospital has contacted Carl.

The next morning, Josie, Ana, and Paul hit the road again. They drive for a while with no particular destination in mind. Along the way, they find places to stop and rest for a while, such as a bed and breakfast whose owners aren’t around. They stay until their presence is discovered, and then quickly flee the scene before the police arrive. When Josie stops at a diner to get something to eat, she spots a man sitting alone and invites him to join her. She then realizes that he is there to serve her with papers, so she makes a scene and gets away before he can give them to her. She is sure the papers are from Carl.



Back on the road again, Josie spots a silver mine and she and the kids go there to explore. They discover that the mine is shut down and the caretaker’s cabin is empty. Josie breaks a window and the three of them stay in the cabin for a few days. It is the happiest they have been in a long time. One day they go into town for food and Josie meets a group of musicians. She asks one of them, Cooper, to help her write down some of the music that is in her head. While she and the children are at Cooper’s house, the town is evacuated. Josie and the children end up at a shelter in a school.

The people at the shelter give Josie the opportunity to make a phone call, so she reluctantly decides to call Carl. She finds out that Carl was not the one who served her the papers; they were actually from a class-action lawsuit against a power company that Josie was involved in back in Ohio. Carl tells her that he is not mad at her, just concerned for the safety of his children.

Deciding that she wants to remain in Alaska for the time being, Josie takes the children for a walk towards a mountain lake. It begins to storm, and Josie and the children find a shelter that has been set up for some kind of party that does not appear to have happened. They eat some of the food they find in the shelter and hang their clothes to dry. Although Josie has no idea where they actually are, she feels a sense of peace and belonging that she has been searching for her whole life.
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