The true story of two women who found meaning, strength, and friendship in one of the most punishing and magnificent landscapes on earth.
Amy Butcher was an accomplished college professor, mentor, and writer, but in her own home, she was embarrassed and emotionally burdened by an increasingly abusive relationship. Exhausted and
terrified of the ways her partner’s behavior could escalate, Amy reached out to Instagram celebrity Joy “Mothertrucker” Wiebe. Joy was a fifty-year-old wife and mother and the nation’s only female
ice road trucker, a woman who maneuvered big rigs through the Alaskan wilderness along the deadliest road in America. Joy was everything Amy wanted to be: independent, fearless, and in charge of
her life in a landscape dominated by men. Invited by Joy to ride shotgun, Amy found her escape on a road that was treacherous, beautiful, and exhilarating—an adventurous ride through the Alaskan
wilderness that was profoundly life changing.
Mothertrucker is the story of that bracing four-hundred-mile journey navigating snow-glazed overpasses, ice-blue curves, and near plummets. It’s also the stories that led them both to
Alaska—an interrogation of the reality of female fear, domestic violence, and how to overcome—and an exploration into just how galvanizing friendships between women can be.
“There’s truth and beauty on every page of this gorgeous and gripping book.” —Cheryl Strayed, New York Times bestselling author
“A sobering reflection on verbal and psychological abuse, Butcher’s book honors the healing power of female friendship and questions the nature of divinity beyond its constricting patriarchal manifestations. A searching and deeply empathetic memoir. —Kirkus Reviews
In this tender and gripping tale, essayist Butcher (Visiting Hours) recounts her unlikely adventure through Alaska with the country’s only female ice trucker, the late Joy “Mothertrucker” Wiebe…Along the way, Butcher explores myriad issues with nuance and grace, including Indigenous rights, violence against women, religious hypocrisy, and environmental concerns. It’s a trip readers won’t soon forget. —Publishers Weekly
Amy Butcher’s Mothertrucker is a riveting book, a dynamic portrait of an extraordinary woman—a long-haul trucker, a mother, a survivor—whose company carries us into even broader explorations of friendship, trauma, renewal, and the collision of many kinds of precarity: environmental, economic, and emotional. Butcher’s voice is tender, curious, adamant, grateful, and always, always searching for a more complicated version of the truth. —Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams and The Recovering
Mothertrucker is an unputdownable page-turner, the kind that asks you to listen more closely, behold each beauty, perceive every flicker of buoyancy or trepidation. This book is an adventure into the expanse of Alaska’s wild, as luminous on the earthly plane as it is in the psyche—just as all good road trips are. Butcher’s prose is a match struck in the dark. Readers will lean into each sling of the truck and know the cumbrous lurking of violence that shadows women into definition. Amy Butcher has crafted a tribute to a savior, and created one in its making. In short: I never wanted this book to end. —T Kira Madden, author of Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls
Amy Butcher’s Mothertrucker is both an intimate portrait of an unforgettable woman and a powerful exploration of how the author finds her way to a more courageous life. There’s truth and beauty on every page of this gorgeous and gripping book. —Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
This remarkable book is a polyphonic triumph of holy themes. It’s a stunning tribute to the life of a brilliant soul. It’s a social reckoning. It’s a call to possibility. And it’s a path to self-love. Healing is a journey, not a destination, and these pages allow us a passenger seat on Butcher’s transformative ride of a lifetime. —Alissa Nutting, author of Tampa and Made for Love
I used to wonder what it would feel like to read a nonfictive piece of art that read like a literary novel, a mystery, a feature, the best of travel writing and welcoming theory. Now I know. A lot will be written about what Amy Butcher pulls off in this book. It’s the how that is unsettling in the best way, the how that moves this book from remarkable to a gritty greatness we seldom experience in American literature. —Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy and Long Division
A beautifully written exploration of a woman’s endeavor to let go of fear and open herself to joy. Can the divine be found on the most dangerous ice road in Alaska? Or is it through our own souls’ journeys toward a most loving and merciful understanding of our own courage and pain? Or both and more? Amy Butcher takes us along for the ride with exquisite writing and heart-pounding yearning. —Joey Soloway, creator of Transparent and I Love Dick
This book should be required reading. Amy Butcher writes a wholly immersive and heart-stopping meditation on love, God, and intimate violence; I wanted to reach back through generations and hand this book to every woman in my family. May we all take this transforming ride on the most dangerous highway in America and become changed. We will be better for it. —Chelsea Bieker, author of Godshot
At once a gripping narrative, voyage of self-discovery, and manifesto of the power of female solidarity, Mothertrucker made me ache for all the women who have seen me, changed me, saved me. This book lights up the ways we as women lie to ourselves, even when we seem so strong, and recognizes that, more than any achievement or barrier broken, showing up for one another—being vulnerable with one another—will set us free. —Sarah Menkedick, author of Ordinary Insanity: Fear and the Silent Crisis of Motherhood in America
An extraordinary story about the power and solace of female friendship. Butcher’s journey into the Alaskan Arctic—a place of danger and beauty—illuminates the complex psychic landscape of two women navigating domestic abuse through a deft blending of place and identity. Fearless, raw, and gripping. Butcher has written a necessary and urgent book. —Jen Percy, New York Times contributing writer and author of Demon Camp
Like her subject, Joy ‘Mothertrucker’ Wiebe, Amy Butcher knows the power of women’s words, and the power of women’s friendships to disrupt and dismantle cycles of violence and despair. Mothertrucker is raw, beautiful, and at times terrifying—not unlike the Alaskan landscape its gifted author describes. But what it is more than anything else is hopeful. This book is a gift. —Cameron Dezen Hammon, author of This Is My Body
Mothertrucker is a gorgeously written and immersive memoir that I binged in a day. I love this book, this story, and Amy Butcher for taking me along for the ride. —Mary Miller, author of Biloxi
Amy Butcher is a graduate of the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program and Gettysburg College. She is the recipient of the 2014 Iowa Review Award for literary nonfiction, and her
work has appeared in the Rumpus, Kenyon Review, and North American Review and online at Tin House, Salon, and the Paris Review. She is the editor of Defunct and an assistant professor of English at Ohio Wesleyan University.
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