Anyone who has been around Alaska knows that Alaska is a force to be reckoned with. She has some of the most extreme climates, weather, and animals to deal with. And they all tend to be a bit temperamental. Going hiking? Make sure you grab the bear spray, and a gun certainly won’t hurt either. It may be 70* and sunny but having sweatshirts and rain gear for when Alaska decides to send a completely unexpected storm is definitely a must. Going hunting? Make sure you’ve got a plan with how you’re going to handle the meat so that the grizzlies don’t take it. In the short time that we’ve lived in Alaska, we’ve already encountered many of Alaska’s trying ways. Having a sense of humor is critical to be able to enjoy Alaska. And no one does that better than Bob Bell in his book Oh No! We’re Gonna Die: Humorous Tales of Close Calls in the Alaska Wilderness.
The Background to Oh No! We’re Gonna Die
Bob Bell moved to Alaska in 1969. He was not really prepared for what Alaska had to offer or what Alaska could throw his way. But he was undeterred and got out anyway. He quickly learned much about Alaska and how temperamental the weather could be, as well as just how exciting hunting and exploring in Alaska actually could be. Despite Alaska doing her best to get rid of Bob Bell, Bell kept his sense of humor and adventure. And this is how Oh No! We’re Gonna Die was born.
Oh No! We’re Gonna Die is a collection of hilarious stories about all the ways Alaska could kill you. One week, Ben and I read it together after putting the kids to bed every night. I quickly learned to take off my mascara before beginning our reading session, because otherwise my laughing that turned to tears would leave streaks of mascara running down my face. Bob Bell is clearly a man with a great sense of humor and the gift of story telling.
I was a little worried about whether reading the book would make me scared of the Alaska wilderness. And coming from a person who spooks pretty easily, I can say that the book did not make me nervous about Alaska at all. Most of the stories come from situations which our family would not be in during this time in our lives. Furthermore, the stories all have happy endings.
One of my favorite stories in the book is when Bell tells a tale from one of his fishing adventures. He leaves his rifle propped against a tree, when some fishermen on the other side of the river alert him to a problem. He turns around to find a grizzly holding his rifle in its mouth. The tale leading up to Bell recovering his rifle is hysterical, definitely told by a master storyteller.
A Collection of Short Stories to Make You Laugh and Learn about Alaska
The book Oh No! We’re Gonna Die is more a collection of short stories than it is a full book. You can read any of the stories individually or together and be able to fully appreciate them. We plan to use this book as gifts for a few family members this year, and we are excited to read Bell’s second book Oh No! We’re Gonna Die Too soon.
There is some language in the book, so depending on your family you’ll want to see whether you want any of your children to read the book. In my opinion, the stories would be appropriate for the high school age. The book is clean, yet also realistic to real people experiencing life in Alaska. If you’re looking to learn more about adventuring Alaska, but want a good belly laugh while you’re at it, Oh No! We’re Gonna Die is definitely the book for you.