Eggers paints a fine and sympathetic portrait of a life that is never quite unbearable, but never all that far off ... America has lost its bravery, Eggers tells us, and it can be found in nature, in open spaces, in shucking off the trappings of mall life and the media and consumerism. It’s hardly a novel message, but Eggers renders it with such passion and good humour, and describes the 'land of mountains and light' in such stirring, lustrous prose, that we can’t help but feel its truth anew ... This is a novel that won’t please everyone: Josie’s story is meandering, restrained and lacking in thrills (although these for me are just part of its peppy charm). Heroes of the Frontier acts on the reader like a breath of Alaskan air, cleansing the spirit and lifting the heart.
It’s not as moving as Hologram and hardly as bravura a performance as the author’s stunning debut, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, but Mr. Eggers has so mastered the art of old-fashioned, straight-ahead storytelling here that the reader quickly becomes immersed in Josie’s funny-sad tale ... Mr. Eggers doesn’t inhabit Josie’s mind with the same depth of intimacy he brought to the hero of Hologram, and he depicts her adventures in Alaska in a breezy, almost improvisatory fashion ... That bone-deep knowledge of a child’s relationship with a parent informs Mr. Eggers’s portraits of Paul and Ana, and their love for and dependence upon Josie — by far the strongest and most deeply affecting parts of this absorbing if haphazard novel.
[Heroes of the Frontier] is pretty absorbing, but has some strange genre issues. Eggers’s chief tools for inserting symbolic meaning into Josie’s chaos are children and pathetic fallacy. With this formal one-two punch, Eggers has somehow managed to mash the Victorian novel into the contemporary American family epic. Imagine Maggie Tulliver as the protagonist of The Corrections ... Sentimentality feels okay when a book is about motherhood, and Heroes reads like a writer finding his subject at last ... The ending is corny, and it ties the book up with a bow it doesn’t deserve. But if you can forgive slightly stereotyped woman protagonists, Eggers’s novel repackages frontiersmanship into a diverting new form.