Growing up Alaska

Memories of a Town, a Time, a Place, and a People Planted in a Little Pocket of Wonderful

About the Book: Growing up Alaska

Beginning with a family move to Alaska in March of 1982, Growing up Alaska follows the memories of Niki as she settles down and lives in the small town of Tok (pronounced Toke), Alaska, located ninety miles from the Canadian border in the interior of the state. From daily life of walking to and from school in the dark with a flashlight and playing outside at recess at 20 below zero, to traveling upwards of five days for school basketball trips that included bus, ferry, and airplane travel, Niki weaves a tale of a unique childhood and talks about what her normal was.

Delving into the town of Tok itself, the book highlights things that make Tok, well, Tok. Featuring Mukluk Land, the Mukluk News, Bucky the Moose, the Tok Trot, the Tok Race of Champions, and the infamous Tok River Fire of 1992, Niki’s story is proof that although Tok may be a tiny town considered a tourist stop along the Alaska Highway, you cannot say there is nothing in Tok.

Looking back, Niki shares childhood memories of wilderness play and unusual winter living, like life in the dark and cold. Even with the dark and cold, though, there was life. Life full of ice skating, snow machining, sledding, and friendship. Summertime was bursting with light, work at local businesses, bike riding, basketball at the town courts, travel “outside” to see family, and travel within the state for the few and brave who could make the trip. There were also a few shopping trips a year to Fairbanks, the closest major city . . . four hours away.

The heart and soul of Growing up Alaska is the community of Tok. Tok wouldn’t have been Tok without the residents who lived there. This town of 1200 souls was living in a unique time and a unique place with an even more unique people. Niki may have left Alaska physically, but Alaska has never left her heart, which was evident when she made a return trip in 2006. Alaska will always be home.

Here’s to a well-lived childhood. . . . Here’s to Growing up Alaska.


"What can I say about this wonderful piece of literature. From the moment my copy of Growing up Alaska arrived at my door to a few hours later I made my way from cover to cover. I can say this whole heartily, this is a MUST read for everyone! Step back into time, the 80's and 90's in a small highway town in Alaska." ( review)

"Set in the interior of Alaska, well away from the cruise ships and shopping malls, trafficked by the more adventurous of the road trippers in the summer and hardly anything in the winter, this book recounts a magical time. While straightforward and unpretentious, the writing also has that ethereal quality, like the Northern Lights on a cold winter's night, that draw the reader into the people and places comprising this "little pocket of wonderful". One has an apparition of the author as a young girl, riding up to the house on her trusty bicycle, inviting the reader to come explore the verdant forests and frigid lakes, and later grab an ice cream at the crossroads. Follow her. You'll be glad you did." ( review)

Niki Breeser Tschirgi has written a book that challenges our rat race mentalities and eases us into a literal easy chair of reading enjoyment. Nothing about 'Growing Up Alaska' troubles us with rush hour traffic, waiting in long lines, or dealing with impatient people. It is the polar opposite of stress--no worrisome headlines, just a most wonderful produce cart full of memories when life had more personal worth than just making more money.
Written with a tenderness and love for the Alaskan country and the rugged, caring folks who peopled it, Niki's recounting of her childhood paradise seems to spill onto the page in simple, straightforward prose. Anything more complex or philosophical would erase both the charm and the depth of her love for the ten years she spent growing up in the wilds of Tok, Alaska.
There are tales and tributes aplenty, and if every American kid could have had a childhood like Niki Breeser Tschirgi's, then the world would be living out the difference today. Three cheers for 'Growing Up Alaska', and for a "little girl" who had the sense to share it. ( Review)


Profile Photo Niki Breeser Tschirgi

About Niki Breeser Tschirgi

Niki Breeser Tschirgi is a stay-at-home mom who resides in Spokane, Washington, with her husband and six adopted kids (five still at home, ages eight through eighteen, all boys). She discovered her love for writing in the seventh grade and studied Creative Writing at the University of Idaho. Niki wrote for Blindigo Online Magazine while living in Houston, Texas, and over the years, has published several blogs such as “The Stars Are Bright—How a Northern Girl Became a Southern Woman and Everything Inbetween” and “Rock a Child’s World,” which raised awareness for adoption in Texas. Her most current blogs can be read at and To connect with Niki and learn more about life in Alaska, follow her on Facebook: or Twitter @nikitschirgi.


All books by Niki Breeser Tschirgi

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