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Miracle Country

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  341 ratings  ·  115 reviews
Kendra Atleework grew up in Swall Meadows, in the Owens Valley of the Eastern Sierra Nevada, where annual rainfall averages five inches and in drought years measures closer to zero.
Kendra’s family raised their children to thrive in this harsh landscape, forever at the mercy of wildfires, blizzards, and gale-force winds.  Most of all, the Atleework children were raised o
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published June 16th 2020 by Algonquin Books
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  • Miracle Country by Kendra Atleework
    Miracle Country: A Memoir of a Family and a Landscape

    Release date: Jun 01, 2021
    Enter now for a chance to win MIRACLE COUNTRY, the unforgettable memoir of family, nature, and homecoming from captivating author Kendra Atleework.

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    Availability: 20 copies available, 1427 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: May 11 - May 25, 2021

    Countries available: U.S.

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    Average rating 4.08  · 
    Rating details
     ·  341 ratings  ·  115 reviews

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    Mar 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    I feel like I don’t have the words to begin how to describe how I feel about this book. The way the author weaves the past and the present is effortless. The book reminds us the we can not move forward without remembering what came before - and holds
    our hand through California’s history. Challenging us to take responsibility for our place in time, while opening the curtain into her own life. The author brings up the questions of home - can our home ever really be our own? And at the same time ho
    Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    I lived for 40 years in the rain shadow of the Sierras and fully understand Kendra’s love for the raw beauty that comes with this country. What they called the Sierra Wave we called the Washoe Zephyr, because you need a name to make friends with such a violent beast. It drives the weather and it drives wildfire. But most of all it’s big and it’s beautiful. When you fall in love with the high desert, you fall deep. The place of Kendra’s story is as important as is her family’s story, and her deep ...more
    Melissa Kiley | memoirs.of.a.booknerd
    Miracle Country is the memoir of Kendra Atleework, who grew up with her family in the Owens Valley of the Eastern Sierra Nevada at the mercy of all nature could throw at them. After losing her mother at 16, her family fell apart and Kendra escaped to LA and then Minneapolis, but eventually returned home to come to terms with her past.⁣⁣
    This memoir is a unique combination of family story and environmental history. What originally drew me to the book was the promise of beautifully descriptive a
    Nov 02, 2020 rated it liked it
    Memoirs are tricky. While everyone has a unique story not every story sparks interest. Miracle Country is part memoir and part biography of a place. I would place it in the literary non fiction genre. The writing was good, but it wasn't powerful enough to carry me through. DNF at the half way mark. ...more
    James Wade
    Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    An incredibly beautiful, moving memoir, seamlessly weaving the author’s own history with that of the Owens Valley. Atleework writes about the loss of her mother in a way that is poetic and unflinching. She captures the magic and the danger of the Eastern Sierra Nevada, the vulnerability of being a young adult, and the remarkable wonder of our ability to keep going forward even when we don’t realize our feet are moving. MIRACLE COUNTRY is inspiring and heartbreaking. I suspect time will prove it’ ...more
    Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    The California desert is as much of a character in this memoir as are the fascinating members of Kendra Atleework's family. The author has blended her touching family memoir with the history of California in such a lovely way. Her work is poetic, lyrical and mesmerizing. I listened to the audio book and looked forward to each moment when I was swept away by this magical book. Most highly recommended. ...more
    It is difficult for me to review a memoir since this is a personal book about the authors life but I will do my best.
    A memoir that is powerful in describing the rough landscape. The drought, heat, wild fires, etc... can’t imagine living in that kind of extreme environment.
    Thank you Algonquin the invitation To this Blog Tour, Kendra Atleework and NetGalley for this arc in exchange of an honest review
    Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    I spend a lot of time outdoors and one of my favorite places in California is the 395 corridor. Every time I’m there I fantasize about moving to the area.
    Atleework grew up there and her book is a vivid description of her family’s experiences living in such a beautiful and harsh place. She has a real affinity for the area’s geography and history. This one is an instant classic.
    Sarah Prendergast (lifeandbookswithme)
    Kendra Atleework describes her family’s struggles as they live in a remote part of the California desert. They fight against elements (extreme drought & fires) and navigate her mother’s early death at the age of fifty-two. Her siblings struggle in their own ways and Kendra flees the Eastern Sierra, in search of peace while at college in Los Angeles. After a few moves across states, she realizes the only place she will ever feel at home is in Swallow. She returns home and begins anew as she comes ...more
    David Abrams
    Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    MIRACLE COUNTRY is a traveling machine, one that will zip you, in the time it takes to turn a page, from your seat to Sierra Nevada in California. Kendra Atleework has created a lyrical portrait of a place, its people (both Native and invader), and how the two try to co-exist in a high desert often sick from drought, but--in Atleework's hands--always beautiful. I want to visit Bishop and Swall Valley and Mount Tom....but, in a very real sense, I already have.

    Comparisons to Annie Dillard and Gret
    Moira Allbritton
    Dec 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: 2020
    Lots of outdoors--the desert and mountains.
    Many themes of place, ownership, resources, family, and home.
    Less dysfunction than Educated, less peril than Crawdads.
    Atleework works in CA history along her route.
    Well-researched, authentic, beautifully composed, and--particularly notable for a young person's memoir--refreshingly readable and relatable.
    Angela Dee
    Jul 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
    I really enjoyed this memoir. About returning home, overcoming painful memories and finding out where you truly belong.

    She was raised in survive and thrive in the harsh landscape of Eastern Sierra Nevada. She experienced things like drought, wildfire and crazy winds.

    When she was 16 years old, her mother passed away and the family fell apart. Kendra then decides to breakaway to LA then to Minneapolis, two landscapes very different than what she grew up with.

    She eventuality feels the need to ret
    May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Close to a 4.5! Full review to come close to pub day. :)
    Miracle Country is an atmospheric, and layered memoir that blends wistful nature writing with Kendra Atleework’s experience growing up, losing her mother, leaving, and eventually returning to the landscape that just wouldn’t let her go.

    Atleework grew up in Owens Valley, a dry and arid area that is east of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The Owens River runs through the valley and provides water to communities that would otherwise have d
    May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: netgalley
    The Eastern Sierra is a land of wild winds and wildfires. In 1892, Mary Austin arrived at the Eastern Sierra and wrote, "You will find it forsaken of most things but beauty and madness and death and God."

    Once Paiute harvested fields of wild rye and love grass, before ranchers arrived to summer their stock. The cattle devoured the crops and the First People starved. Bill Mulholland stole lake water to grow Los Angeles. Drought depletes the wells while the streams are diverted to LA.

    A woman from t
    May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: giveaways
    I won a free copy in a Goodreads giveaway.

    This book uses a non-linear storytelling style that was a little hard for me to get into at first. Rather than progressing directly from past to present, the author dances back and forth, sprinkling in memories of her life and family with stories about California's not-so-golden history. I learned quite a bit about native displacement, the "water wars" and a horrifying concept known as "the greatest good for the greatest number" that can be used to justi
    Raja Ramesh
    Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
    A memoir cum environmental history of Owens Valley, sprawling in its ambition but clumsy in its execution. Through telling the stories of her parents and siblings, as well as those of California writers and historical figures, she describes the the beauty and danger of the Valley. In particular, she focuses on the wildfire and water issues brought to the fore by climate change. I felt like I understood a little more about the instinct to rebuild in an area that regularly gets destroyed by natura ...more
    Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: netgalley
    [Rating 3.5 stars]
    Miracle Country is a memoir about growing up in the California desert, and about what home means in the context of family and a harsh landscape.

    Having lived in the Southwest for a lot of my life, I already have an affinity for the desert. While I connect with the beauty and the rawness of such places, I feel that the particular area Atleework grew up in has a different context because of its proximity to Los Angeles and that history of water conflict. She delves deeply into the
    Jul 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    I really enjoyed this memoir! Atleework weaves past and present seamlessly. A memoir about returning home, overcoming painful pasts and finding where you truly belong.

    Raised to thrive in the severe climate of Eastern Sierra Nevada Atleework knows the realities of drought, wildfires, and crazy winds. When she was 16 her mother died and the family fell apart. We then see Kendra break away to L.A and then Minneapolis, where the landscapes were opposite to where she grew up. Eventually she feels t
    One thing I love about book is how beautifully poetic it is. The writing is seemless and entralling. The way the author writes on loss, on nature, on family is alluring.

    I rarely read non-fiction and while it took me a while to adjust to this one, it is undeniable that this book is a masterpiece. The way Kendra Atleework weaves her story back and forth, only few writers know how to pull that off seemlessly and perfectly.

    I was also pleasantly surprised to learn from the book that the name Atleewor
    Larry Almeida
    Jul 31, 2020 marked it as to-read
    What a wonderful book! (I'm biased because my daughter, Zoe, was Kendra's roommate at Scripps College, but this is a great book.) Kendra's prose is exquisite and the force of the narrative is not just from her own personal story. This book is about "Place" just as much as it is about "Character" and it tolls the bell loudly about crucial environmental issues. But you don't have to take it from me. Read the excellent review Kendra received in the San Francisco Chronicle:
    Lindsay Bourgoine
    Feb 09, 2021 rated it liked it
    I enjoyed Atleework’s deep descriptions of place, childhood, memory, and was impressed as she wove them into the environmental history of Owens Valley: both well connected and well researched. I certainly learned a lot about water rights and indigenous history of the region in this work of literary non-fiction. I struggled at times to track the non-linear plot line that meandered and lacked the push to keep picking the book up. I wished there was less reliance on quoting outside authors, at time ...more
    Connie Moyer
    Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Atleework's memoir shines through poetic expression. It combines history, physical science, natural science, literature, cultural injustices, and a love for family through personal loss wrapped in a beautiful 300 page package. Atleework has proven herself beyond a budding author with a love story expressed for California's Eastern Sierra and the Owens Valley that so many of us share. I can't wait to read her next story! ...more
    Jan 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
    Lovely memoir of Bishop, CA and the Owens Valley. This book was a Christmas gift from Bill who loves Bishop and with whom Brad did lots of camping and hiking in the Owens Valley. I have been to Bishop only a few times and still this book brought back vivid memories. Water rights, drought, fire, mistreatment of Indigenous people — past and present — will all be familiar themes to those who have lived in California.
    Sep 27, 2020 rated it liked it
    Shelves: nonfiction, nature
    This book is a complicated weaving together multiple threads (family history, life in an inhospitable environment, connection to place, history of California, land & water rights, etc.). It lost and overwhelmed me at times, but there was also enough to keep me going (unlikely connections, beautiful writing, exploration of unanswerable questions). But without some investment in one of those threads (for me, connection to place, growing up in an elsewhere), it would be a hard go.
    Debbie Boucher
    Jul 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Miracle Country celebrates the Eastern Sierra. I highly recommend this memoir that is part natural history, local history, and personal history. It touched my heart.
    Deborah Stevens
    Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: memoir
    Oh I adored this book and will now show up for anything more from Atleework!

    I was drawn to this by the land, which is a full-on presence in this memoir. I have had the good fortune to visit this area of Southern California several times and am fascinated by its beauty, complex history and ecology, harshness, mix of residents.

    There's much more to appreciate here. Atleework is young, not always a plus for a writer of memoir, but a careful observer and a revealing teller of tales. Wonderful book.
    Miracle Country by Kendra Atleework is a beautiful reflection by the author of her life living in the Eastern Sierra Nevada desert, in the presence of snow capped mountains and a glaring absence of available water. Atleework brilliantly situates this land of "lack" against her own experience of loss after her mother dies, bringing this idea of something that is missing from the microcosm of family to the larger picture of an entire region.

    It is clear that Atleework loves the wild land where she
    Nancy Willard
    May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
    Miracle Country A Memoir by Kendra Atleework
    Miracle Country is not only a Memoir of a Family, but also a Memoir of a geographic place, its nature, natural history and inherent disasters. In fact, the author has packed it so full, I was overwhelmed in the beginning. Just as I was in the throes of sadness as this very tight-knit family is learning the dire prognosis of their Mother’s medical condition, the author abruptly shifts to stories of California history and I had to turn back a couple of p
    I was given a copy of this book through LibraryThing Early Reviewers to review (unbiasedly), and I absolutely adored it.

    This book is billed as a memoir, and it is; it recounts her childhood in a small town in the Eastern Sierras; her family's dynamics, especially those involving her mother, who passed away from an autoimmune disease when Kendra was 16; the drive to escape the Eastern Sierras that led her to LA and Minnesota; and her eventual return. But it also interweaves Kendra's memories with
    Bryan Mack
    Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
    Kendra Atleework’s Miracle Country is a memoir about growing up in the Eastern Sierra, a story of both family and the land they live on. Having grown up in the small community just to the south of Ms. Atleework at the same time, her book was mesmerizing for me. She weaves her story with the story of California’s water and the story of the Nuumu people. The book is thick with references and quotes from authors who share her concerns, such as Rachel Solnit and Wallace Stegner, but she takes care n ...more
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    KENDRA ATLEEWORK was born and raised on the dry edge of California at the eastern base of the Sierra Nevada mountains. She moved away for eleven years, mostly spent being homesick and researching the place she left behind—the product of which is Miracle Country. She has an MFA from the University of Minnesota and serves on the board of the Ellen Meloy Fund for Desert Writers. She lives in her home ...more

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