Highest of praise for this book I will read it again I Based upon the recent press and the other 5 star reviews, I really wanted to like and devour this book No such luck It s boring and uninteresting, skips around enough to be confusing And not enough character development to be able to care about any of the characters I think the author is trying to impress us with her intellectual yet creative writing style, open our eyes to the wonders of nature, the importance of family, blah, blah, blah If you enjoy birds, storms and death, you may like it I couldn t even make it halfway through Returned it.
I recently learned of the concept of a spark bird a bird spotting which ignites an interest in birding and profoundly changes the way you think about birds On a simple level, Margaret Renkl s Late Migrations most certainly peaked my interest in birds and nature in general But on a deeper level, it does what great writing does it changed the way I look at loss and life On a deeper level, then, it is a spark bird of a book It is also a rare sighting of simple prose, effortless to read yet, Renkl s metaphors stop you cold with their depth and beauty I can t recommend this book highly.
It is a gift when a writer brings a new perspective to a challenge we have faced since the dawn of human life the challenge of loss in the face of love and the grief that follows Margaret Renkl offers us a new perspective in Late Migrations A Natural History of Love and Loss a collection of short essays and nearly poetic writing that move around the issue looking for a new way in.
Renkl explores both the world outside her home, filled with rat snakes, bees, and her beloved birds, and ties it into the loss of her own parents She ties all this together, stating the obvious in new ways that connect life and death in a natural context, but not diminishing the impact The shadow side of love is always loss, and grief is love s own twin 7.
Her description of the natural world is centered around her own backyard in Tennessee, something that most of us can relate to easier than the wilderness explorer In the chapter, Late Migration, Renkl tells us about her desire to attract monarch butterflies She notes there were once over a billion monarch butterflies in North America, and now there are less than 100 million Once upon a time, even a loss of that magnitude might have caused me only a flicker of concern, the kind of thing I trusted scientists to straighten out But I am old enough now to have buried many of my loved ones, and loss is too often something I can do nothing about Since she can do something about this problem, she plants a garden to attract monarch butterflies Although they do not come at first, a later migrating group comes at the end of summer She notes that monarchs migrate like birds, but it takes four to five generations of butterflies to make it No single butterfly makes the entire migration The natural world follows its own path.
Her love of the natural world around her reminds her of the fragility of life and the cruelty of the world But knowing that death is part of a natural cycle does not make it easier to address In After the Fall, a single powerful page addressing grief and offering hope, Renkl writes about grief This talk of making peace with it Of feeling it and then finding a way through Of closure It s all nonsense.
Here is what no one told me about grief you inhabit it like a skin Everywhere you go, you wear grief under your clothes Everything you see, you see through it, like a film Grief changes people But change is not always bad and with time those changes create a different person who can still live What I mean is, time offers your old self a new shape What I mean is, you are the old, ungrieving you, and you are also the new ruined you You are both, and you will always be both There is nothing to fear There is nothing at all to fear Walkout into the springtime, and look the birds welcome you with a chorus The flowers turn their faces to your face The last of last year s leaves, still damp in the shadows, smell ripe and faintly of fall 281.
Part of that new person is the memories that we carry with us Memories become unreliable for accuracy as we move on All these images are absolutely clear, but I know better than to trust them I have turned them over so often the edges have become soft and worn, their contours wholly unreliable 98 While our memories do change, I only see them as becoming unreliable in their factual accuracy We begin to alter those memories so they become true to our experiences than the facts Truth is not always found in the facts.
Renkl s short essays reflect a range of writing styles From natural descriptions to what can best be described as prose poetry e.
g Redbird, Sundown , making this a fascinating read She even includes an essay called The Imperfect Family Beatitudes that offers a humorous look at families and ends with an exhortation to tell your children you love them every time you leave them.
Renkl is an outstanding writer who has published in a number of publications, especially the New York Times, but this is her first book After the success of this book, we can hope to see come from her It is a rare voice that can address grief and yet offer hope Human beings are creatures made for joy Against all evidence, we tell ourselves that grief and loneliness and despair are tragedies, unwelcome variations from the pleasure and calm and safety that in the right way of the world would form the firm ground of our being In the fairy tale, we tell ourselves, darkness holds nothing resembling a gift.
What we feel always contains its own truth, but it is not the only truth, and darkness almost always harbors some bit of goodness tucked out of sight, waiting for an unexpected light to shine, to reveal it in its deepest hiding place 186.
Renkl excels at finding that unexpected light in the darkness As a result, she has added an indispensable volume to the library of grief, loss, and love.
It took me a while to catch on, then the essays were understood to be contributing to a larger narrative of a thoughtful life, life and death braided in the attention of a skilled writer Verging on cliche, I laughed and cried and grew in spirit.
A book of days, of stories, of wonderful prose and observations, I am intensely glad Ms Renkl wrote this book Thank you for a gift I will read again and again.
I share the delight and wonder of other reviewers This book is a beautiful and unexpected journey Disclaimer I m not much for birds But I just might change my heart The artwork deserves mention as it is lovely.
It s seldom I write a 5 star review on a book but I just finished this lovely tome I really loved it it was poignant, and just well real I happen to love nature and the author s take on birds beasts in her neighbourhood was a joy She is such a good writer I loved her descriptions of the landscapes usually not fond of these but hers were brief but beautiful Of course, her reminiscences about her family and losses, including her mother, brought tears I normally read a book and then donate it, however I will keep this lovely book and hopefully I can share it with someone who will appreciate it as I did Looking forward to from this author.
A TODAY Show ReadWithJenna December 2019 Book Club PickNamed A Best Book Of The Year By New Statesman, New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, And Washington Independent Review Of books Southern Book Prize FinalistAn O, The Oprah Magazine July 2019 PickA Publishers Weekly Pick Of The Week An Indie Next Selection For July 2019An Indies Introduce Selection For Summer Fall 2019A 2019 Okra PickFrom New York Times Opinion Writer Margaret Renkl Comes An Unusual, Captivating Portrait Of A Family And Of The Cycles Of Joy And Grief That Inscribe Human Lives Within The Natural World Growing Up In Alabama, Renkl Was A Devoted Reader, An Explorer Of Riverbeds And Red Dirt Roads, And A Fiercely Loved Daughter Here, In Brief Essays, She Traces A Tender And Honest Portrait Of Her Complicated Parents Her Exuberant, Creative Mother Her Steady, Supportive Father And Of The Bittersweet Moments That Accompany A Child S Transition To Caregiver And Here, Braided Into The Overall Narrative, Renkl Offers Observations On The World Surrounding Her Suburban Nashville Home Ringing With Rapture And Heartache, These Essays Convey The Dignity Of Bluebirds And Rat Snakes, Monarch Butterflies And Native Bees As These Two Threads Haunt And Harmonize With Each Other, Renkl Suggests That There Is Astonishment To Be Found In Common Things In What Seems Ordinary, In What We All Share For In Both Worlds The Natural One And Our Own The Shadow Side Of Love Is Always Loss, And Grief Is Only Love S Own Twin Gorgeously Illustrated By The Author S Brother, Billy Renkl, Late Migrations Is An Assured And Memorable Debut.