Inside Passage

A mother-daughter love story of resilience and hope against the odds

Keema Waterfield grew up chasing music with her twenty-year-old mother on the Alaskan folk festival circuit, two small siblings in tow. Summers they traveled by ferry and car, sharing the family tent with a guitar, cello, and fiddle. Adrift with a revolving cast of musicians, drunks, stepdads, and one man with a gun, Keema yearned for a place to call home. Preferably with heat and flushing toilets. Trying to understand the absence of her pot-dealing father, she is drawn deeper into her mother’s past instead.

Advance Praise for Inside Passage

“The author presents an emotionally raw remembrance set in a wild, unforgiving part of Alaska, known for its rough terrain and rugged culture. Born in 1980 to an artistic and free-spirited mother and a father who’s colossal in size and spirit, Waterfield seems to have been destined for an unorthodox life. . . . A wild remembrance that will keep readers engaged.”  —Kirkus Reviews

“Keema Waterfield’s Inside Passage is a beautifully crafted memoir of an uncommon childhood wandering the small towns of coastal Alaska. Waterfield’s prose is vivid, precise, and generous, and her unforgettable story is filled with music, beauty, resilience, and all the love and hurt that constitutes a real life.” —Dinty W. Moore, (Between Panic & Desire, To Hell With It, among others) 

“In this captivating debut, Waterfield deftly wrings compassion, resilience, and wry humor from her unconventional, peripatetic childhood. Both tenderly written and fast-paced, Inside Passage is a coming-of-age story that will move through you and leave your heart rearranged.” —Maggie Smith, (Good Bones, Keep Moving, among others)  

“Set against the backdrop of beautiful, wild, coastal Alaska, we meet a cast of characters who are lovingly rendered in all of their imperfections. Keema Waterfield has created a stunningly nuanced portrayal of motherhood, both its challenges and its joys.  Inside Passage is a sprawling and generous memoir of family, love, and loss. The alchemy that Waterfield has created out of her troubled but magical childhood is exquisite.” —Kelly Sundberg, (Goodbye, Sweet Girl) 

“Forget the scads of ‘reality’ television shows that claim to depict typical Alaskan lifestyles in the rugged north. Inside Passage is the real deal: filled with people who are often quirky, sometimes troubled, surprisingly resilient, and unfailingly themselves. In this beautifully written memoir, Waterfield sings her way through the story of growing up performing at folk festivals, in late-night jams, and on Alaska’s state ferries. Despite experiencing a ruckus of a life that includes unthinkable brutalities, Waterfield has avoided producing a trauma memoir. Instead, she has written a clear-eyed, compassionate account of a childhood whose greatest perils and acts of derring-do take place in the wildness of the human heart. The result is a tale that is heartbreaking but never maudlin, funny without being flip, and always, always openhearted about what survival on The Last Frontier truly means.” —Sherry Simpson, (The Dominion of Bears, among others)  

“With humor and great empathy, Waterfield renders her childhood as the daughter of a peripatetic musician in raw Alaskan country, surrounded by a cast of characters both compelling and flawed. This is a world that offers equal parts uncertain protection and aching beauty, and from that fire Waterfield has forged a shining debut, resonant as song.” —Megan Kruse, (Call Me Home) 

“Keema Waterfield rolls through life with a natural grace, not because she’s had it easy but because she hasn’t. She was born in a trailer in Alaska — during a party — to a 20-year-old mother and lived some of her childhood in tents and buses, often without heat or a flushing toilet. Waterfield’s debut memoir, Inside Passage, is a mother-daughter love story of resilience and forgiveness that offers readers an escape to the Last Frontier. Hope, wit, and candor are the methods of transport.”
—Los Angeles Review of Books (link)

About the Author

Keema Waterfield was born in a trailer in Anchorage, Alaska the year John Lennon was shot, smallpox was officially eradicated, and the first Iran-Iraq War began. Her award-winning essays have appeared in Brevity, Pithead Chapel, and Redivider, among others. She received her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Montana. She now resides in Missoula, Montana, where she plays music for kicks and occasionally moonlights as a standup comic. She lives with her husband, two children, a bunch of extra instruments she doesn’t know how to play, and a revolving cast of quirky animals. She lives and writes on Séliš and Qlispé land. Follow her on Twitter @keemasaurusrex.

280 pages; 5.5 x 8.25 / Softcover
ISBN: 9781950584567
Publication Date: June 2021
Distributor: IPG / Chicago
Rights sold: All rights available.
Rights contact: Dede Cummings

Distributor: IPG; also available through Baker & Taylor, Ingram, and other wholesalers.
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