A Line of Driftwood: The Ada Blackjack Story

Diane Glancy

Diane Glancy once again puts Indigenous women at the center of American history in her account of a young Inupiat woman who survived a treacherous arctic expedition alone.

In September 1921, a young Inupiat woman named Ada Blackjack traveled to Wrangel Island, 200 miles off the Arctic Coast of Siberia, as a cook and seamstress, along with four professional explorers. The expedition did not go as planned. When a rescue ship finally broke through the ice two years later, she was the only survivor.

Diane Glancy discovered Blackjack’s diary in the Dartmouth archives and created a new narrative based on the historical record and her vision of this woman’s extraordinary life. She tells the story of a woman facing danger, loss, and unimaginable hardship, yet surviving against the odds where four “experts” could not. Beyond the expedition, the story examines Blackjack’s childhood experiences at an Indian residential school, her struggles as a mother and wife, and the faith that enabled her to survive alone on a remote island in the Arctic Sea.

Glancy’s creative telling of this heroic tale is a high mark in her award-winning hybrid investigations of suffering, identity, and Native American history.

  • "This moving retelling of a heroic woman's journey demonstrates that history lives through an intimate connection between two women beyond time's borders."—Booklist, starred review

  • "What bounty to have Glancy's great art erupt once more." —Spencer Reece

  • "Is there a tether that pulls [Diane Glancy] back into the historical? Or is it the other way around?" —Peter Mishler, LitHub

  • "Stunning. ...A graphic and compelling mosaic of human tragedy." —Library Journal, starred review

  • "[An] illuminating and challenging chronicle of loss, despair, and regeneration." —Washington Post Book World