Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Winds of Skilak” as Want to Read:
Winds of Skilak
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Winds of Skilak

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  1,352 ratings  ·  135 reviews
WINNER of the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Award (memoir) other category!

AWARD-WINNING FINALIST in the Autobiography/Memoir category of the 2014 USA Best Book Awards!

Leaving behind friends, family, and life as they know it, Sam and Bonnie Ward embark on a journey into the Alaskan wilderness that will change them forever.

Winds of Skilak traces a young couple’s adventurou
Paperback, 404 pages
Published December 31st 2013 by Two Harbors Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Winds of Skilak, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Winds of Skilak

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.24  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,352 ratings  ·  135 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Winds of Skilak
Oct 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
Giving this book two stars would've been a stretch so one, it is. I'm mad I spent actual money on the Kindle version. I only did so because the reviews were so good.

Sorry Bonnie, but your husband was (is?) an ass. And no, the rest of us women would not consider ourselves lucky to have him. (For the record, Nels was an ass, too, and didn't deserve forgiveness for the goat murders.)

This story would've made slightly more sense if Bonnie and Sam were daughter and father. I get no picture of a
Dec 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Excellent non-fiction of a young married couple who choose to live in the Alaskan wilderness relying on the land for all of their needs. Even though at times I wanted to reach inside the book and grab Bonnie's frying pan and konk Sam over the head with it, I admire their strength, fortitude, skills and talents. As I read some of the dangerous situations they faced, I realized they got through it, and Skilak Lake didn't swallow them up alive after all because Bonnie lived through it to write this ...more
Rex Fuller
Dec 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Bonnie Ward knew nothing of living in the bush. She accompanied her husband to an island in Skilak Lake, Alaska, as an act of keeping faith with his dream. The book describes building a cabin and their life in it for the first two years. She collected berries for canning--more than once coming face-to-face with a grizzly--fished for salmon, helped run trap lines, and slowly became a wilderness woman. Everything you would expect. What you don't expect and what you find in this book are charming h ...more
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: I can't think of anyone that I wouldn't recommend this book to ~ Ages 10+
Recommended to Sue by: Rhonda Browning
Shelves: favorites
** Author provided "Winds of Skilak" for review **

I was totally captivated from the moment that I started reading "Winds of Skilak." It was such a surprise to me that I became so engrossed in the book so quickly as I usually don't really enjoy the books with families moving to lands that are unexplored or unsettled.

This is the book that changed my mind! I felt as if I was right there with Bonnie and Sam Ward as the came together and then followed Sam's dream. Bonnie didn't seem to even have a s
Emmy Gregory
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was ok
OK so I probably got off on the wrong foot with this one. On the very first page, where the author's husband springs it on her that he's put the house on the market without asking her first, and decided that they're both going to quit their jobs and move to Alaska, and she's OK with this, I should have noped out of there. I mean I guess they had talked about it a year before and stuff, but... no. Whatever your marriage dynamics are, you DON'T spring this crap on your spouse.

This is really a book
Dave Allen
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
So, this book was recommended by a friend and has numerous 5 star ratings, but I really had to force myself to keep plugging away. The homesteading and making your way in the wilderness was interesting for a while, but the writing is on the simple side and could have used some editing in my opinion. Also, the author's subservience to her husband, and what seemed like her constant "crying or on the verge of tears," got really tiresome. Maybe its just that I've read some truly great, very well wri ...more
Don Alesi
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Must read for those wishing to move to Alaska.
A lot of people have wanted to pack up and leave their chaotic lives and run away to Alaska. This couple did just that and to everyone's surprise, they succeeded. It's a well written and entertaining book that doesn't sugarcoat the harsh realities of living on a windswept island with little contact from the mainland. After several years of and making it in Alaska, the couple returns home. I wish they would have explained why. I highly recommend this book to those wishing to lead a life in the wi ...more
Mar 05, 2016 rated it liked it
This book filled a niche for me, I love a good live-off-the-land, survivalist story and I have a special place in my hard for memoirs about this, especially when set in Alaska!

That being said, the husband in this book is an ass. A sexist ass. I found myself rooting for the Alaskan wilderness against his stupid, egotistical antics. I wished for him to be eaten by a bear, or crashed through thin ice on the mighty Skilak River.

Sam puts down his awesome wife regularly. Telling her such gems as "put
Lone Alaskan
Feb 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: alaskan-books
At eighteen I sold all of my belongings and bought a one way ticket to rural Alaska. Since then I've fallen in love with this state and its remarkable people and their remarkable stories. Bonnie, happens to be one of those people. But contrary to others who've lived amazing lives, she documented hers- in beautiful wording and vivid description.

The story starts at the beginning. Bonnie and her husband, Sam leave their midwest home and venture into the unknown of Alaska. The story follows Bonnie a
Lisa Kearns
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Alaska is my favorite subject, and I've read just about everything that's been written about it since the early 1900s. Once in a while a new book comes along that renews my love of Alaska and my determination to visit there some day. This is one of those books - I was totally immersed in Bonnie Rose Ward’s “Winds of Skilak” until I turned the last page . This is a true story of Bonnie and her husband Sam, who carved out a homestead on Caribou Island in Skilak Lake in the 1980s.

The story begins w
Jul 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
*Review copy provided by author*

"Winds of Skilak" is the true story of Bonnie and Sam Ward, adventurers who leave their home, family, indoor plumbing, electricity, stores--in short, civilization--to pursue a dream of living in the Alaskan wilderness. When they arrive in Alaska, they have no idea where they will live, until lots come up for sale on Caribou Island, located in giant, tempermental Skilak Lake, located on Alaska's Kenai Penisula.

At Skilak Lake, they are greeted by a sign warning them
Mar 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
Not what I expected. This book received high ratings but it should be shelved under 'romance', not homesteading. After reading Proenneke I was expecting a similar wilderness account, but from a female perspective. The story feels heavily scripted, the author is awfully weepy for a "wilderness woman", and the fact that the couple received so much outside help, relied on a car, motorized boats, and well-paying seasonal jobs on the Slope is reflective of the lifestyle of many Alaskans, then and tod ...more
Deb M.
Nov 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Another "North to Alaska" book and totally different from the other two. This couple was young when they headed to Alaska where they bought land on an island, built their cabin, and survived well. I was surprised at their story and rather than me giving this book I way I suggest you read it. Bonnie Ward, the author, is an excellent writer. ...more
Book Preview Review
Mar 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Book Description:

“Leaving behind friends, family, and life as they know it, Sam and Bonnie Ward embark on a journey into the Alaskan wilderness that will change them forever.

Winds of Skilak traces a young couple’s adventurous move from the suburbs of Ohio to a remote island on ill-tempered Skilak Lake. As Sam and Bonnie adapt to a life without running water, electricity and telephones, the unforgiving, desolate environment tests their courage early on. Facing sub-freezing temperatures, unfriendl
Lynn Bonelli
Jul 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
I read this while traveling in Alaska this summer and had, in fact, just finished Pilgrim's Wilderness (a wonderful read)the day before. This title, Winds of Shilak, popped up with such high ratings that I felt needed to read it before I visited the area. After all, I too love the idea of homesteading, living sustainably, building my own cabin and communing with nature. As much as I respect what this couple has done, and I applaud their skills (and mostly luck)I just couldn't take the book serio ...more
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Winds of Skilak is an incredible, moving true story of a man and a woman, deeply in love, who decide to live out their dream of living in the Alaskan wilderness. Sam and Bonnie pack up and leave their lives, as they know them, behind. They set their minds on conquering their dream, and they don't let anything stop them. Their bravery, determination, and desire to adapt and overcome anything Caribou Island and Skilak Lake have to throw at them is as encouraging as it is remarkable. Together and w ...more
Aug 18, 2016 rated it liked it
I am traveling the world from my deck this summer. I enjoyed this trip to Alaska. It is about a young couple fed up with their busy lives, sell everything and move to an unwelcoming Alaska wilderness. They start from living in a pup tent on a piece of ground while they build their cabin out of the trees around them. It is a very interesting story. It is written from a female perspective so there are a couple of chapters that definitely are pink in nature, but does not really detract from the boo ...more
Amy Jo
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read!!!!Exceptionally written of enduring love, respect and gained personal strength. This book will make you laugh, cry and at times put you on the edge of your seat. I have never been to Alaska, however, while reading this book I felt as though I were right there in the throws of it all. From the moment that Sam comes home from work to announce their move to the life they made for themselves against all odds; this book is a page turner. Bonnie Girl you are an inspiration!
Diana Harrison
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was so excited when Bonnie finally put her journey of moving and settling in Alaska into a book. She and Sam have so many adventures coming up the highway to Alaska, finding land to build on and learning how to live off the land. Even though I knew a lot of what was going to happen, I could hardly put this book down. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes adventure! I can't wait for the rest of the stories! ...more
Christine Barnett
Dec 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing story about true life, true love and living in the wilderness. When I read Winds of Skilak I literally could not put it down! It was as if I was living in Alaska myself. If you want to read a story that will literally keep you on the edge of your seat, wanting to know more...what happens next, pick up Winds of Skilak. I guarantee you cannot put it down!
Jacki Twining taubman
Jul 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great read! Writing style is entertaining. Each story is kept short so it keeps your attention and moves you right along to the next adventure. Could really envision what it was like for them. I've read other similar books of Alaska living but this one is my favorite! I only wish there was more of an epilogue letting us know what happened to the various people in the book. ...more
Judy Pink
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. It's the story of a young couple who move to Alaska and build a log cabin in a very remote area on an island. They were stuck on this island sometimes for weeks at a time because of the winds. They lived off the land and ended up staying for 15 years. ...more
Mar 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Living on Caribou Island is pretty bad ass. So Lots of stars for that. But I was really turned off by her total deference to her husband, and I did not relate to the religious aspects of her life.
Apr 19, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: outdoors
Entertaining. Definitely gave a view into what living in the wilderness in Alaska would be like. Author did a little too much praying and being subservient to her husband for my likening but certainly didn't detract too much from my enjoyment of the story. ...more
Apr 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Really good book, I enjoyed reading it a lot!
Karen Cramer
Jun 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
wonderful story of survival in rustic Alaska. Very strong couple to be able to handle all that challenged them.
Sylvia Archer
I just couldn’t do it....

I adore a good survival story but Bonnie’s childlike relationship to her older husband was too much for me to swallow.
Carol N
Jul 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Winds of Skilak traces a young couple's adventurous move from the suburbs of Ohio to a remote island on ill-tempered Alaska frontier, Skilak Lake. As Sam and Bonnie adapt to a life without running water, electricity and telephones, the unforgiving, desolate environment tests their courage early on. Facing sub-freezing temperatures, unfriendly bears, and cabin fever, this couple find strength in new friends, each other, and the awe-inspiring beauty of "the last frontier." Just when they finally s ...more
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
After reading The Great Alone last year, I found myself pining for more narrative about the actual daily living in the Alaskan wilderness. This memoir was a good accidental find. In it, a then 26 year-old Bonnie recalls her daily adventures with her husband Sam in the Alaskan wilderness, and their ups and downs with homesteading, finding community, and survival. The 56 chapters cover roughly their first year and a quarter there.

I personally poured through the pages of this grown-up version of L
Apr 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pastures-new
Warning possible mild spoiler:
I love, love LOVE books about Alaska, the wild and people who escape the rat race and this was a very readable account of a young couple who go to live in the wilds of Alaska. Unsurprisingly there was a lot of killing of bears and other animals which I didn't like reading about.
I was very puzzled as to why their only neighbour Nels turned from a lovely caring friend to an absolutely hateful creature doing something so unforgivable and inexcusable it seemed beyond be
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Follow Me to Alaska: A true story of one couple’s adventure adjusting from life in a cul-de-sac in El Paso, Texas, to a cabin off-grid in the wilderness of Alaska
  • To the Wilds of Alaska: A New Life in the Alaskan Wilderness (Growing Up Wild #1)
  • Forty Years in the Wilderness
  • Cold Hands, Warm Heart: One Woman's Story of Ten Years in the Alaskan Wilderness
  • My Wilderness My Home
  • Carry On: Stan Zuray's Journey from Boston Greaser to Alaskan Homesteader
  • A Cabin in the Wilderness: Raising a Family in Old Alaska (Growing Up Wild #2)
  • Lost on Purpose: Adventures of a 21st Century Mountain Man
  • Stories I've Heard, Characters I've Met, & Lies We've Told in My 44 Alaskan Years
  • If I Live Until Morning: A True Story of Adventure, Tragedy and Transformation
  • Cabin: An Alaska Wilderness Dream
  • Alaska Bound: One Man's Dream…One Woman's Nightmare!
  • Return to the Wilderness: The Final Years off the Grid (Growing up Wild #4)
  • The Last American Homestead: Living Life In The Last Frontier
  • Arctic Homestead: The True Story of One Family's Survival and Courage in the Alaskan Wilds
  • Alaskan Wilderness Adventure: Book 2
  • A Widow's Walk Off-Grid to Self-Reliance: An Inspiring, True Story of Courage and Determination
  • The Final Frontiersman: Heimo Korth and His Family, Alone in Alaska's Arctic Wilderness
See similar books…
After fifteen years as a "wilderness wife" in Alaska, award winning author Bonnie Rose Ward now resides with her husband on their farm in central West Virginia. They still maintain a self-sufficient lifestyle, raising goats, chickens, and other barnyard animals, with four dogs and a peacock named George rounding out the menagerie. Bonnie enjoys canning vegetables from the huge gardens sowed by her ...more

Related Articles

Anne Lamott, the beloved writer of memoirs including Bird by Bird and Traveling Mercies, once said, “You own everything that happened to you....
62 likes · 22 comments
“I could build a log cabin, and hunt and fish for my meat. I wouldn’t need to go to work every day and punch a time clock just to get by, but could provide for all our needs with my own two hands.” 0 likes
More quotes…