Mother Trucker: A Woman on The Job in The Alaskan Frontier

Kim Wright

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Mother Trucker book cover imageAmy Butcher

Mother Trucker, a book written by Amy Butcher, tells us a story about a lone female trucker who drives the Dalton Highway of Alaska for a living. In this memoir, the trucker, Joy Ruth Weibe, teaches us the breadth of domestic violence in America, and just how far a woman goes to escape it.

The highway she drove spans 414 miles (666.27 kilometers) of dirt, gravel and amazing adventure, but skips the Starbucks Latte. As the true story Amy shares with us unfolds, Joy spends her life scraping by to make a living for her family. She learns the skill of driving an eighteen-wheeler truck across the Arctic tundra of Alaska on a lonely and isolated road.

Her story, mirrored by the author’s own inward experiences with domestic violence, shines the light on how domestic violence impacts a woman struggling to get out. How lonely it is, and just how frequently others refuse to listen.

Joy’s story teaches those who don’t know what it is like to be a mother, earning a living in a male-dominated and dangerous profession. Further, her story sheds light on how she finds a sense of peace and solace with God on an open, isolated road.

Mother Trucker portrays an amazing adventure set in Alaska, along with the joys and sorrows of surviving domestic violence. 

The story resonates with readers

Both women’s trucking journey takes us on a weeklong trip across ice, snow, storms, and loneliness. We stop with them along the way at key locations along the Dalton Highway, discovering interesting food and people. The story depicts the thrill of adventure in the Alaskan wilderness, along with the sorrows of the human heart.

Further, Joy’s independent spirit and determination to forge her own life in the face of domestic violence shows courage beyond belief. She drives a dangerous and lonely road amid great danger through ice, snow, and mud to earn a living.

The story begins in Ohio, where the author recounts finding Joy on her Instagram account titled Mothertrucker. Enamored by Joy’s photos of the Alaskan wilderness and her lifestyle as a female truck driver in Alaska, Amy phones Joy for a meetup. She then later sets off on an adventure to meet Joy and travel for a week with her in the wilderness, riding in Joy's big rig. 

The two begin their journey in the semitruck in Fairbanks, Alaska, and travel across the wilderness on Dalton Highway. This isolated and treacherous road stretches over 400 miles (643.74 kilometers) across Alaska from Fairbanks to Deadhorse on the coast of the Arctic Ocean. 

The road stays minimally maintained by the Department of Transportation, so its passability depends largely on the weather and condition of the land. The isolated stretch of road yields two places for gas, four places for restaurants and complete wilderness in between. Yet, multiple trucks drive its path to deliver goods across the Alaskan wilderness every day.

The women visit stops such as Hilltop Truck Stop, Atigun Pass, Coldbanks and then end up the first half of their journey at the Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe Bay in Deadhorse. Through Joy's eyes, we discover a trucker life comes with both comradery and bravery. Yet, the images of the pristine wilderness created through Amy’s words captivate the imagination. 

Life on the road on Dalton Highway is about as remote and isolated as you get. Where man or woman meet their Maker and pray they make it through ice, mud and a lack of pavement.

This true adventure teaches us about how difficult walking away from domestic violence can be and how courageous it makes you. Joy’s life and death pristinely epitomize her in the isolation of the Alaskan wilderness, even before it takes her. And one simply knows she belongs there in the wilderness in the hands of God, even before it happens.

The story of Mother Trucker gives Joy wings of flight and offers us a real view of danger in the escaping of domestic violence. In a world gone mad that silences female victims and their families from telling their stories of domestic violence, Amy gives Joy and many other women a voice with her story telling. 

Mother Trucker resonates long after you finish the book and creates a pause to remember just how far America needs to go in understanding domestic violence. It screams justice for women and their children, who deserve life instead of death and abuse at the hands of men who are abusive. 

It reminds us that Joy stands as a symbol in a sea of domestic violence victims and their children, including the numerous missing Native American women in the Alaskan wilderness. She shines the light for countless American women who die every year from domestic violence. 

Captivatingly, Joy’s story remains a story of hope for all the victims of crime, past or present. Mother Trucker, a must-read story, stands in the gap for women like Joy, past, present, and future. 

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Kim is a writer and blogger. She has two sons, three grandchildren, and two dogs. Her youngest son is a special needs big kid with a big heart. She is a former public school teacher, a social activist, and a lifelong learner.

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