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The Puma Years: A Memoir of Love and Transformation in the Bolivian Jungle
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The Puma Years: A Memoir of Love and Transformation in the Bolivian Jungle

4.55  ·  Rating details ·  1,861 ratings  ·  272 reviews
In this rapturous memoir, writer and activist Laura Coleman shares the story of her liberating journey in the Amazon jungle and falling in love with a magnificent cat who changed her life.

Laura was in her early twenties and directionless when she quit her job to backpack in Bolivia. Fate landed her at a wildlife sanctuary on the edge of the Amazon jungle where she was assi
Kindle Edition, 298 pages
Published June 1st 2021
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Laura I've spoken to a number of people who've been reading it to their young people / children. There are references to sex in it, and swear words, however…moreI've spoken to a number of people who've been reading it to their young people / children. There are references to sex in it, and swear words, however these are easy to skip over - and are not explicit. The majority of the content is appropriate for older kids - depending on the individual of course - and hopefully enjoyable! (less)

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Desney King
May 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I am almost 70 years old and I have never read a book like this before: a novel-length love poem for and about the Earth (Pachamama), all her creatures, and the vastness of the universe.
Laura Coleman is a beautiful writer with a heart so big it makes romantic love look flimsy; almost inconsequential.
The Puma Years immerses us in realms of sensory, emotional and psychological overload; shares with us relationships of so many kinds that at times I felt as though I was spinning, very close to the e
May 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing

This is an incredible story of a woman who had drifted from one job to another and decided to backpack through Bolivia. While there, she saw a flier to volunteer at a wild animal rescue. She only planned on staying a few weeks. She gets assigned a cat - a puma named Wayra. She is taught how to walk her.
The jungle is not a forgiving place. Alternatively so rainy that you have to wade through swamp and so dry that the whole mountains burn, filled with bugs, monkeys, wild pigs, Jaguars
Jun 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Review to come.
Jun 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful & exceptionally moving memoir about Laura Coleman’s time at a wildlife sanctuary in Bolivia, focusing especially on the relationship she had with an originally much neglected and mistreated magnificent puma called Wayra,

Like Wayra, Laura is also a little bit shy and scared when she arrives at the sanctuary. She may as well have gone to Mars as this crazy place feels like a million miles from home. But the jungle can do strange things to a girl and as days, weeks, months & even seaso
May 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Unmoored, the author arrives at a Bolivian animal sanctuary for a month long stint in helping the animals. She first works with the pias who peck at her and remove almost all buttons from her clothes. Aghast at the filth of the camp and the human inhabitants she wonders if she will make it a month. She is tasked with caring for a puma and her world turns upside down.

This memoir is outstandingly joyous, depressing and heartbreaking.

You must read it if you care about the earth.
S.G. Wright
Jan 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great, eye-opening read ... about a 24-year-old girl who in 2007 spent a year as a volunteer taking care & protecting wildlife at a Bolivian animal sanctuary, which rescues animals that have been illegally trafficked. The whole jungle experience from the dedicated staff & friends she makes & lives with ... to the majestic, beautiful wild animals they look after -- and one puma in particular -- would come to transform her life.
If you're an animal person & want to support wildlife in th
Jon Cassidy
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've spent time at the same CIWY animal sanctuary in Bolivia, it's always been hard to explain to friends back home the impact this place and experience can have on you. This book does it perfectly, brought back so many fond memories. Her descriptions of the settings and emotions experienced puts you right in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. Great read. ...more
May 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-star, favorites
One of my favorite books of all times! The Puma Years is a memoir written by a young British woman who found herself at loose ends as she drifted from job to job, not knowing what she wanted to do with her life. She decided to spend a few months in Bolivia (not sure why Bolivia, but what the heck) to try to figure it out. A couple of weeks before she was to return home, she became a volunteer at a wildlife refuge for animals that had been rescued from dire circumstances (people who had owned the ...more
May 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
"When the last tree is cut, when the last animal is hunted, when the last river is polluted, it will be then that man will realize that money cannot be eaten..."

Excellent book. Beautifully written.

Everyone needs to read this book. It is a powerful, engaging story, and one that I couldn't put down.

What is the book about? Well, I could say it is about one 20-something woman's transformational journey working with fiercely intelligent and proud pumas among the muck, mud, and "mozzies" in an animal
C A Gentle
May 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
I got this book free from Amazon First Reads. I chose this book as I liked the idea of reading something completely different. I found it an amazing read. I loved reading the author's story - how she came to be working as a volunteer and all the stories about the animals, particularly "her cat" Wayra the Puma. The writing was so descriptive and didn't pull any punches. It was lovely to read how the author grew and developed and what she is doing now. I liked the way the book not only developed t ...more
Sarah Hanners
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An exquisitely written 'love letter' from a woman to the jungle community that changed her life, this book is much more than just a travelogue. It's equal parts adventure, self reflection, romance, memory, and education. It's a collection of characters - human and animal -that are not easily forgotten after the book is finished. Coleman presents the jungle in a way I've never before had it described to me. She imbues it with its own spirit and personality, such that it is just as important a pro ...more
Alfred Nobile
May 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was an outstanding book. The likes of which I've never read before. It is a memoir, but much more than just than that. It tells the story of Laura, who tiring of mundane jobs decides to backpack in Bolivia. Whilst there she comes across a flier that tells her about a wildlife park looking for volunteers and decides to give it s go. Another way to fill in a few weeks.
This is where the story really takes off and Laura finds herself having to put up with hardships and learning to care for wild
Marion Sheppard
Jun 05, 2021 rated it really liked it
4.5. Such a beautiful memoir of the author’s time in a Bolivian animal sanctuary and her love for a Puma named Wayra. God bless those volunteers who gave selflessly to care for animals rescued from less than optimal situations, those who should have remained in the wild for their natural born lives. And a subtext to the book is how society has encroached on the land, taking resources and threatening the animals’ habitats, and the government offering little to no support for the sanctuary. I foun ...more
May 15, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Anyone who lived a life like this in the Amazon jungle and wrote a wonderful book about her experiences deserves a 5! I am grateful for people like this who can survive living in a place to care for injured animals where I would never want to be, what with so many mosquitoes, animal poo, and just so many inconveniences that imagining wearing the same sweaty, filthy clothes for a week, taking one cold shower a week, and having to wear lots of clothing in the summer season and freeze to death ...more
Jun 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
This book is extraordinary! One of the most beautiful books I’ve read this year.
May 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Even if it got repetitive at times, I couldn't stop reading this book. Every page is filled with vivid images that make you travel to the jungle and meet the sanctuary's animals through Laura's eyes, each one of them with their own heartbreaking story and complicated lovable personality.
I would say this is a book about love and the complexity of relationships, especially of the relationship with ourselves.
May 12, 2021 rated it it was ok
Yikes, I'm definitely in the minority here. But, like any good break up line: it's not you, it's me. I'm just not an animal lover. But I think the author went on an incredibly, brave, amazing journey and I think that's so admirable. I think anyone who loves a good memoir and/or animals should read this. ...more
May 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
On the book cover, Jane Goodall (one of my heroes), says, “You will love this book!” Well, I did! It got off to a slow start, but as the narrator grows into her life in the sanctuary, I really did love her story. As a naive and, in her own words “broken” young adult, Laura volunteers for 2 weeks at a sanctuary in Bolivia for wild animals who cannot be released, due to human interference, many having lost parents to hunters/poachers or having been illegally sold and raised as pets. Laura’s passio ...more
Jun 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
While I enjoyed this book - the anthropomorphism in it distracted me.
I also felt that the descriptions were a bit over the top which got tedious after awhile causing me to “fast forward” at times.
These types of facilities and animal welfare/rescue societies do tend to attract people with personality disorders and this was evident in the mindset of both the author and others as portrayed in the book.
Having volunteered and worked in animal welfare, these type people sometimes do more harm than
May 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Love, love, love.

It's been a while since I've been so enamored of a story, and I won't stop thinking about this anytime soon. I'm still crying.

This might just be the greatest love story I ever a read - the love story of a woman and a puma. It's also an ode to the jungle and its animals, the people fighting to protect them, the environment... It's a powerful call to action.

Incredibly, it felt like I was right there in the jungle, with the horrendous parasites, flesh-eating bacteria, fungal infect
Louise P. Alexander
May 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I fell in love with Wayra!

I was able see and feel the beauty of the jungle and share the emotions. I was also completely in love with Wayra and was so caught up in the author’s need to rescue this cat from its fear. As the owner of a very large cat I rescued as a tiny kitten, I feel better able to understand his sometimes skittish ways and conversely
the way he clings to me and adores to be petted and cuddled while ready to flee at any moment.
I was also able to cringe at her description of the
Jun 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was a beautiful, beautiful story. This book is definitely not my usual genre (thriller/horror) and I've never read anything quite like it. I was enamoured by the first page. I relished getting lost in the Bolivian jungle with Wayra and Laura. I laughed, I cried, and my heart soared. This will be a book I think about for years to come. An absolute must read. I'm so glad I picked it up! ...more
Jun 11, 2021 added it
This is a memoir describing Laura Coleman's years volunteering at a wildlife sanctuary in Bolivia. More than that it touches on the feeling of becoming consumed by a place, finding yourself, and our relationship with animals. The book really resonated with me and I liked the story. Worth noting that the proceeds from every sale contribute to the upkeep of the sanctuary and efforts in Bolivia. ...more
Barbara Wolff
May 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The devotion and passion of those working with the wildlife refuge was very inspiring. The conditions they had to live and work under made their efforts that much more heroic.
May 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
My new favorite book! I loved it.
Dayna Lang
Jun 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
Healing in the Wild

This book brings new meaning to being one with nature and learning about the self through communion with animals. It has beautiful details throughout.
Aaron Westre
May 21, 2021 rated it liked it
Longer than it needed to be

Her story is very cool but, her use of 10 metaphors per page got really old after the first chapter. For me, the metaphors and similes added nothing but length to the book.
Kirsten Cutler
May 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
This memoir is a very graphic account of time spent working in an animal sanctuary in the Amazon jungle. The living conditions are harsh and primitive but the author conveys the passion she developed for a rescued puma she took care of in an intense daily regime for three months. The impact of this initial experience becomes a lifelong commitment to rescuing and protecting animal victims of the exotic pet trade.
May 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
For a memoir, this is surprisingly well written. Very descriptive. I felt like I was there in the jungle with the bugs, birds, dirt and smells all around. The book's strength, I thought, is in the day to day descriptions of life at the animal shelter in the Bolivian jungle. The animals were all given human characteristics and seemed humorous or sad, however the author was feeling at the time. There may be a little "over the top" feelings for the animals, especially the Puma. The author even felt ...more
Kris Sellgren
May 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cats, five_stars, reviewed
This memoir is about an English woman who was traveling in Bolivia and saw a flyer about a sanctuary for animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade. The author fell completely in love with a puma (mountain lion in the US) named Wayra. The story of how Wayra came to trust the author is very touching. The story bursts with the author’s love of the jungle, and her growing hatred of deforestation of the Amazon by loggers and slash-and-burn agriculture. The jungle imagery is vivid and beautiful. ...more
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I'm a writer, activist and artist. My pronouns are she/her.

My first book, THE PUMA YEARS, will be published 1st June 2021 by Little A. Proceeds from this book are going to support Comunidad Inti Wara Yassi (CIWY) in Bolivia:

In 2007 I went to Bolivia, and started volunteering with CIWY, an NGO that manages three wildlife sanctuaries and gives homes to animals rescued

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