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As Utah-born naturalist Terry Tempest Williams records the simultaneous tragedies of her mother's death of cancer and the flooding of the Bear River Migratory Bird...
As Utah-born naturalist Terry Tempest Williams records the simultaneous tragedies of her mother's death of cancer and the flooding of the Bear River Migratory Bird Sanctuary, she creates a document of renewal and spiritual grace destined to become a classic in the literature of nature, women, and grieving.
"Moving and loving... both a natural history of an ecological phenomenon [and] a Mormon family saga... A heroic book."
—The Washington Post Book World
"Brilliantly conceived... one of the most significant environmental essays of our time."
—The Kansas City Star
Posted August 19, 2004
I'm not a fan of Terry Tempest Williams. I read her books because she writes about Utah, but most of them are just not good. THis book, however, is pretty worthwhile. Williams blends the story of her mother dying of cancer with the story of the Salt Lake flooding of the time (the mid-1980s). Neither story is told in a depressing fashion, Williams relates them as unavoidable if unfortunate natural occurences. The ~I don't know, cowboy or something, in her shows-though when she refuses to be overcome by the extreme frustration of working as a naturalist along a flooding shoreline or when arguing with a funeral director. She is hurt by the things going-on around her, but is never beaten. Nor does she crow about her victories or mourn her losses, she just relates them as events that happened and passed. She relates a face-first fall that exposes the skull beneath her face as though it happened to someone else, and jokes about the scar. I usually read her books then toss them out or give them to the library, but I've kept this one for years and re-read it often.
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Posted August 2, 2014
When Tempest-Williams stops discussing arbitrary, Animal Planet-style facts about birds, she starts really getting to a more human, more interesting level. Unfortunately, she does not do this often enough. Her writing style, bolstered with what often feel like patronizingly simple sentences, also began to annoy me after only a short while. I don't regret reading it, but I wouldn't recommend it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 1, 2011
Terry Tempest Williams beautifully intertwines nature with family life, grieving, and personal reflection. Williams' words come together to create a work that is not only relevant to her audience but also resonates with the human spirit. We all suffer loss and experience healing though often times it still leaves a scar. These memoirs are intensely personal and provide an honest portrayal of relationships, between humans, between natural elements, and between humans and nature.
From a literary stand point my first observation was basic though fundamental for the structure of the book. The table of contents does not divide the book into numerical chapters but rather sections. Each section bears the name of a bird and a lake level measurement. The measurements chart the rise and fall of the Great Salt Lake and connect nature to the "natural" flow of emotion and feeling as Williams describes the ups and downs, the inconsistency, of accepting the sight of her mother slowly dying.
The section titled Wilson's Phalarope puts the lake level at 4206.15'. The first paragraph reads, "In 1975, the Utah State Legislature passed a law stating Great Salt Lake could not exceed 4202'. Almost ten years later, at 4206.15', Great Salt Lake is above the law." Williams then lists the five options the State of Utah proposed to deal with the issue bringing up the point that not doing anything is not an option. The moment captured next within the section depicts Williams with her mother eating a meal. Like the Utah Legislature her mother is dealing with a problem that was neither foreseen nor expected and then became the enemy when it made its loud appearance. One of many examples just like it, Williams here connects her personal life and feeling directly toward nature and forms a strong parallel and sense of loyalty.
Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place is book that will calmly lead the reader through sorrow and discovery. Though the emotions it arouses may not feel calm at the time, personal reflection upon finishing the book will leave the reader considering his own life on a deeper level and finding solace in his own natural surroundings.
Posted May 16, 2010
Posted January 28, 2003
This Book is moving and a down to earth twist on the usual autobiography. Terry Tempest Williams really captures the American spirt with her powerful descrptions. She really poured her heart and soul into the bWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 23, 2000
Posted June 29, 2009
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Posted May 28, 2011
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