As a doctor on the South Pole, Nielson explains what you experience when you "winter over" at the pole. Polies that winter over are essentially stuck at the South Pole for a year - without anyone going in or out of the station, including supplies, during a South Pole winter (approximately February to September). During the 1999 stay over the Nielson does, there are 41 other Polies wintering over.
Nielson first paints a picture of her life before she discusses anything about the Pole so that the reader can understand where she comes from. Her past is marked with a horrible marriage, including a real jerk of an ex-husband, and three teenage children that will not talk to her. Something about her story doesn't sit right with me. I'm not sure if it's because I've been lucky enough never to have known anyone in that type of relationship. I think the main problem was that once the children found out their mother had cancer, they did not contact her and did not even want to talk to her.
Nielson then talks about what life is like at the bottom of the world. The way these people come together as a community is amazing. About half way through her stay, Nielson finds a lump in her breast. She then has to deal with the struggle as the only doctor on the base, being sick, and wondering if she has cancer or not.
This book is about survival: mental and physical. It's a truly amazing story, both from surviving disease and the harsh conditions of the pole. I stayed up quite late a few nights ago finishing it! I recommend this book!