Northern Lights

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

This story of a town coming together to build a football field has its moments but is weighed down with too much peripheral information.  I have no complaints about including some of the information on the Parker family, nor did I have an issue with their Christian beliefs being included as that is important to their lives.  However, there was just so much of this information that I got lost trying to keep track of the main story, which resulted in the book being a DNF for me.  I will give three stars for the portion that I read, but overall it is probably closer to two.
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I first heard of this book through the radio personality Delilah on her Facebook page. I then found the book on NetGalley and decided to give it a try. This book was the first I had heard of this effort to give the town of Barrow a football field which in turn would hopefully give the failing town a better future. The book is interesting. I enjoyed learning about the effort that provided Barrow with the much needed football field and all the miracles God granted to bring it to fruition. It certainly is mind boggling when you consider the amount of difficulties it took for this to happen. Cathy presents the story well and it’s a quick and easy heartwarming read. If you enjoy football, faith and a feel good story, give this one a try!

I received this book from NetGalley and was not required to post a positive review. All thoughts are my own.
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Northern Lights by Cathy Parker, 224 pages. NON-FICTION, MEMOIR
Thomas Nelson, 2019. $18.
Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG
BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL
AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW
Cathy Parker was hit by love and inspiration as she watched the news about an Alaskan school starting a football program: she was going to help them get a football field. The idea seemed crazy -- even as Parker gained more help and support, the trials and challenges piled up to make the project seem impossible. But with God all things are possible, and Parker knew that He would make it all work out.
Parker gives readers lots of information as she prepares to tell her story of the Alaskan football field. While several of the stories and memories she shares are funny and highlight the miracles of everything coming together with hard work and prayer, I felt that Parker often gave too much information. I got lost in the details as Parker mentioned something that seemed like foreshadowing but ended up being irrelevant and wanted to relive entire thought processes again. The information overload made this book one that I lost my excitement about reading the longer I read, even though I had initially been excited about the story. If you can get through all the details, Parker shares a heart-warming story of hard work, generosity, and miracles.
Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen
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I enjoyed Northern Lights: One Woman, Two Teams, and the Football Field That Changed Their Lives. It was an inspiring read that I highly recommend. Five plus stars.
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You all know how much I love football so this one was kind of a no-brainer for me, a story about how a group of people came together to help a football program succeed where it was absolutely essential that it do so.


The field as it neared completion. That is the Arctic Ocean to
right, close enough that an errant pass could mean a ball
lost forever!
For Barrow, being able to have a football program meant having something for their young men to do, something for their community to come together around. But when you live where grass won't grow and where the ground is permanently frozen, having a field that's usable is all but impossible. In fact, the field was so bad, other teams were no longer willing to go to Barrow to play. Since the schools are so far apart, and there's no way into Barrow except by air or sea, flying is the only way for the teams to travel. If no one was willing to come to Barrow, the Barrow team was going to have to pay to fly to all of their games. Add to that a team that was largely made up of young men who had never played football before and coaches with little to no experience, and you can see why the school was in danger of losing their football program.

And then Cathy Parker saw that ESPN story. Cathy would be the first to admit that she is a big idea person who figures out how to make something work after the fact. Getting an artificial turf field for Barrow was one of those ideas. If she would have had any idea how logistically difficult it would become when she started, she might have gone to sleep that first night thinking "it would be great, but..." Luckily for the people of Barrow, she didn't. Not only did she never give up on giving Barrow a football field, she found a way to bring the entire Barrow team to Florida to learn football the way her own sons' football coach taught it. When the Barrow team returned home, they took with them more than lessons in how to play the game of football better, but lessons about discipline, hard work, and integrity. They went away with everything that's good about participating in organized team sports.



What's more, having that field brought the town together. It gave them a place to gather, a place they could have a picnic (assume you're game for a picnic in a place where summer means highs in the 40's), and young men with hope. Eleven years after the field was put in, Parker returned to Barrow and found a town that had been revitalized.

There's a lot about Parker's family in the book and early on I began to wonder if it was too much. But Parker was setting things up so that readers would know that she understood both the pros and cons of organized sports. The Parkers also understood the high costs, both literal and figurative, that sports can exact. More than once, football had caused problems in their marriage and Cathy is, justifiably, happy to let readers know what her family gained by this experience.

What's missing in that publisher's summary, and I had to go back and re-read that after I read the book to see if I'd missed it, is religion. Parker feels that she was called by God to bring that field to Barrow and her religion plays a big part in this book. Again and again, she talks about being certain that the power of prayer helped smooth over the seemingly insurmountable problems that came up again and again. She talks about church and religion a lot and it sometimes felt like too much for me, not the story I was looking for. But I had to keep reminding myself that whatever compelled Parker to push so hard for those young men, I was happy, for their sakes, for it.

Despite my quibbles with the book, I really enjoyed reading about how so many people came together to provide the community of Barrow that football field and the young men of Barrow hope and a future.
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People who have never lived in Alaska, much less in the "bush" communities do not understand how difficult it was to build this field.  In an area where everything must be flown or barged into the community at great expense, you can almost understand why some people saw better ways to spend these dollars.  But Cathy did not just get those boys a field, she taught them that no matter where you call home, you are part of a very large community.
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Thanks to #netgalley for providing a copy of #northernlights for review purposes.  When most of watch a news story, we tend to listen and move on.  But when Cathy Parker heard about the conditions of an Alaskan football field, she felt compelled to take action.  Although the book rambled and was a bit repetitive near the beginning, I had give this book a 5 star writing because the story was so inspiring.  Although I was fairly sure that the football field was going to be finished in Alaska, there were enough moments of uncertainty noted by the author that I did wonder at times if her mission was going to happen.  I loved all of the lessons of teamwork and character presented as well!  I would classify this book as inspirational non-fiction.  Although there are definite Christian overtones, I think that almost anyone would be encouraged by this true story.
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I just finished reading “Northern Lights; One Woman, Two Teams And The Field That Changed Their Life”

This is an inspiring true story of an ordinary mom who was compelled by faith to do something extraordinary.  After seeing a story on ESPN about a struggling community and high school football team in the most northern town in Alaska, Cathy Parker took in upon herself to rally her community of Jacksonville, Florida, coaches, parents CEOs, community leaders to build an artificial turf field in remote Barrow, aka Utqiaġvik, Alaska. 

At first I was put off by the seemingly randomness of what Cathy was trying to do.  Her lack of connection to and therefore understanding of the community she wanted to help, the astronomical expense, and the impossible logistics of transporting and installing the field had me thinking, why? Isn’t there a better use for all this time, energy, money? My own head was repeating all of the things people who opposed Cathy’s “Project Alaska Turf”.  

But by the end, I was overwhelmed at the impact this project had on both towns, both teams and others around the whole country! Wow! It was an eye opening, refreshingly inspirational book. 

I love a true story that can restore my faith in humanity and this story does that.
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This is an very inspirational book built on hope and dreams. It's like if you believe in something so strong and stand on the word of God with Faith , it can happen. Just like it did for Cathy Parker. What an outstanding job with telling us how in a bitter cold park of Alaska God granted her with putting together this wonderful gift to the town of Barrow. Cathy felt the blessing of God calling her to build them a much needed football field. This book teaches you how hope Faith and trusting God can open many of doors for you . I was so Blessed to have received an ARC from the publisher to give my honest review. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who need thereabouts on Faith and Believe in the higher power.
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At first glance you would think this is a work of fiction and the story line is embellished. Fake News? Hardly. Cathy Parker was watching an ESPN special about the Barrow High School Whalers and was astonished when she saw the team practice on gravel. A mother of four athletes and married to a former NFL player, she elbowed her husband and matter-of-factly said "those boys need a field." Assuming the role of a General, she galvanized support and before you knew it,  the Mission was accomplished. Will never forget the UPS Vice President saying "I just  agreed to send a barge with an artificial field for free. I couldn't say no to Cathy. She has that infectious enthusiasm." There were set backs. Not everyone in Barrow, Alaska was on board and some people tried to stop  the operation. You just have to read about the trials and tribulation. Can't wait for the movie. Promonorm.
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I received an advanced reader copy from the publisher. I come from the great state of Texas who LOVES Friday Night Lights!  We love the game of football and all it means to our communities.  Cathy is one outstanding lady to give this gift to another state that has never experienced the joy that football can bring to a community.  This book will inspire you to look for small and large ways to bless others near and far.  Cathy lets everyone know that if God could use her to do such a HUGE project, He can use ANYONE to accomplish big things for this world and His kingdom.  #NorthernLightsBook
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Northern Lights is the story of how Providence sneaks up on ordinary and everyday people and assigns them tasks that push them beyond their limits to make extra-ordinary impact on their culture.

More than a decade ago, along with sports fans worldwide, Cathy Parker watches an ESPN news highlight of an Alaska town trying to offer a higher path to their struggling youth.  Plagued with high drop out rate of 50%, drug abuse and suicide, Barrow, Alaska attempts to offer football at their only high school.  But their attempts are met with hardship as the high school makes do with feeble resources, including a field that Parker describes as "...an unsightly mix of packed dirt, mud, and gravel."  The players often received cuts, bruises and sprained ankles from the rocky surface.  

Parker's story highlights the oft proven reality that, if we will allow it, out of our deepest places of pain often flow our greatest gifts to the world.  Her pain revolves around football.  In college she married her college sweetheart, Carl, a football player who upon graduation was drafted into the NFL and ended up at the Super Bowl his first year.  Through a series of circumstances, the football career that took off so quickly, began to wane.  Parker details the story that leaves her saying, "I grew to resent everything about football."

Northern Lights is the redemptive story of how Cathy Parker's gift to Barrow Alaska flows from her navigation of the pains and disappointments of her past.  This is a story we can all benefit from!
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I received an advanced reader copy from the publisher. I couldn’t put this book down! Cathy’s journey to build a football field in Barrow and how God met her each step of the way is inspiring and encouraging. If you’re like me, you’ll need tissues!
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Northern Lights turned out to be a very different story than I was expecting, but I still enjoyed reading it. I am blown away how one woman woke up with an idea one morning, stuck with it because of her faith in God, and was able to pull off what she did. True, she did not do it alone, but she is the one who was able to pull all of the people and resources together again and again. She proved herself to be persistent and strong, and continued to pray and rely on her faith in God through the triumphs and obstacles until her mission was accomplished. I commend her not only for what she did, but also for writing about her experience for the world to see and read. It is such a wonderful act she did, what the communities did, for the football team in Barrow, Alaska.
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Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC of this book. I love anything to do with life in Alaska and strong women and this book caught my eye. It is a little like Blindside so if you like to read about inspiration and football I think you will enjoy this book! This story about the first high school team that is located above the Arctic Circle gets a football program, thanks to the determination of Cathy Parker, a woman from all places, Jacksonville, Florida! If these elements intrigue you then I think you will enjoy reading this book!
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I was not aware that this book, in addition to the development of a football program, was about the authors conservative Christian beliefs. This was not mentioned in the book description. There is a lot of the book describing her and her family’s religious beliefs. Some parts of the the book are interesting and inspiring, however I was turned off by the conservative Christian narrative. Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

This book was a mix of The Blind Side, Remember the Titans, Friday Night Lights and Whale Talk all combined. Cathy's story is so inspiring that it is remarkable the success she has found in a sport that is dominant in her life.  The lessons learned throughout the book were so motivational and inspiring that I hope it brings a movement forward in how people view the game of football and the affect it has beyond the field and the gridiron. I love to hear stories of players, coaches and parents paying it forward beyond the field. Our community a football fanatics and they are sure to love Northern Lights.

We will definitely consider adding this book to our Fiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
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Wow.  That's the best word I can use to describe Cathy Parker's book, Northern Lights.  Ms. Parker's story is a testimony to what God can accomplish when he has the human support of someone with the faith that she has.  Something tells me that when this book comes out, people will be talking about it for a long time.   I know I will be.
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Ultimately, I did not finish this book. To be fair, I did not research the publisher prior to making a request (by this I simply mean that I didn’t go to their netgalley page which makes clear that this is a Christian publishing company). There are some interesting bits in here, but the heavy handed Conservative Christian narrative was not for me.
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True story and memoir from a woman living in Florida that led a project to raise money to build a football field of artificial turf for a team in Utqiagvik (formerly Barrow), Alaska. This book’s blurb does not make it clear that the author adheres to a conservative Christian theology, and a good amount of narrative is dedicated to describing her family’s religious beliefs. I was expecting a story about sports, not religion, and it made me uncomfortable. I would have quit before finishing, but I received an advance reader’s copy from the publisher via NetGalley in return for a candid review, so I persevered. I applaud the author for spearheading a project to benefit others but feel the description should inform the reader that the book includes a great deal of religious content. I enjoyed the information about the Iñupiat’s culture and wish the book had focused more on their customs and traditions.
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