Mikkel Aaland

"It's All An Adventure"

The book trailer for the River in My Backyard.

Book Description (2016)


The River in My Backyard is more than an exploration into the world of patricide, madness and ghost genes. Ending with a dramatic pilgrimage to holy Mt. Kailash, and atonement for a brother’s sins, it provides an inspiring roadmap to inner peace and healing. The book is beautifully illustrated with both the author’s photographs and vintage family reproductions. It is available in softcover, hardcover, ebook, and audible versions.



Reviews and comments


THE LIFE WE HAVE LIVED IS THE LIFE WE REMEMBER. The magic of a good memoir is that by telling our story we can give new meaning to our past, we can change and move forward, but most important, we connect to others. The river of each life flows to the ocean of our shared humanity. Mikkel Aaland's beautiful book proves that it is not the truth revealed that makes us vulnerable, but the secrets we keep. -Isabel Allende, author.


OF ALL THE HAUNTING MEMOIRS THAT I HAVE READ, Mikkel Aaland’s The River in My Backyard, is at once the most heart-rending and the most courageously triumphant. Aaland explores two rivers, the literal one that runs past his ancestral home in Norway, and the metaphorical one that runs in the blood of his ancestors, himself, and now his two daughters. By the time the two rivers flow into one another, through crystalline prose and shadow fretted photographs, his story has become a healing journey of epic proportions. — Phil Cousineau, author of The Art of Pilgrimage


A BRILLIANT, BRAVE, AND MOVING BOOK filled with loss and redemption, art, and the journey forward. Aaland shares his relentless pursuit of beauty, and the concurrent mystery of the secrets just below. This is a powerful memoir by an author with the courage to trust his memory and find his voice; an artist who understands that his struggle is worth something. His story connects us all as we, too, carry our wounds across the river to find peace, if we are determined, on the other side. - Rebecca Walker, author of Ade, A Love Story.


IT IS EXCEEDINGLY RARE FOR A POWERFUL NARRATIVE and powerful photographs to comfortably coexist in the same volume. But Mikkel Aaland achieves this tour de force in his achingly poignant memoir, The River in My Backyard. As Aaland courageously confronts a brutal family tragedy with the wisdom and discernment that only comes with age, the reader is inexorably pulled along. The River in My Backyard is a quick, compelling read and Aaland's brilliant and haunting photographs perfect his story. -David Elliot Cohen, New York Times best-selling author.



Through fearless self-reflection and a patient unpacking of his family history, Mikkel Aaland discovers that it's never too late to learn from your past, heal and grow. Epigenetics, one of the most fascinating areas of recent scientific learning, posits that the experiences of our ancestors can impact our own mental, physical and spiritual health through a mechanism commonly known as "ghost genes." Aaland intuits, then learns of, this fascinating concept while striving to make sense of the loss of his eccentric, adventurous father in a heartbreaking family tragedy. If this book's humanity and compassion alone were not enough to reward the reader, Aaland, a renowned photographer, graces his tale with exquisite images from regular visits to his ancestral home in Norway and family archives, forging a much broader work of art.--By Michael Nordskog



Mikkel Aaland has taken a terrible tragedy and made it into a rich and compelling meditation on family, history and spirituality. As in his earlier excellent book “Sword of Heaven”, Aaland is an engaging storyteller who nonetheless keeps his eyes clearly focused on the larger issues of life, love and destiny. An added bonus is that this time Aaland has used his considerable skills as a photographer to add a strong and haunting visual element to the telling.--By Michael



Mikkel Aaland has a unique way of seeking answers for the unanswerable, and his persistence and courage in this quest gives courage to others. I and many others have experienced the kind of family tragedies "that people don't talk about", and that remain part of the deep wounds that persist for years and decades. This book is a brave voice for examining the hurts and betrayals, for monitoring the effects of these events on others and not just oneself, and for seeking ways to understand and perhaps find some small resolution, even if it takes years. I am grateful that Aaland has written this book. It is a beautiful volume, and I felt the photography further extended a true invitation to immerse myself entirely within the story as he told it.--By L Granger





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