Katie's Reviews > This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone

This Life Is in Your Hands by Melissa Coleman
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Dec 09, 11

Read in December, 2011

I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir about homesteading in the 1960s-1970s, written by someone who was a child in the homesteading family. Even though homesteading and organic gardening are not particular interests of mine (although food "politics" is), I found this book completely engrossing. It was so lyrically and poetically written, especially for a non-fiction book. The writer has a real talent for gorgeous writing, and especially writing that evokes the feel of being out in nature. What a wonderful book to pick up during winter, since this writing in this book can make you feel like it's springtime and you're outside in a field with your face stuck in some fresh flowers.

I loved how the writing and the structure of the book was so closely tied to the seasons, just as one would imagine homesteaders' lives would be (as opposed to the rest of us, barely outside much of the time since we drive to our identical enclosed cubicles and then drive home! The weather has hardly an impact). Every year when springtime broke, the author would write again about the particular birds and flowers that would make their first appearance, and you could really see how the patterns of their lives shifted when the seasons changed. And every year when fall started to make its appearance, she would write about how that affected their lives and moods. During the summers they were REALLY busy, and during the winters they were sort of "hibernating" and eating their carefully preserved jars of fruit.

And of course, there's a lot more going on here... there is a family tragedy which is the main story arc of the book, as well as a continuously rotating large cast of characters that moved in and out of the story (it definitely had the feel of a commune). I found the whole thing fascinating--would definitely recommend to anyone.
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