Synopses & Reviews
"Blending family memoir and environmental history, Kendra Atleework conveys a fundamental truth: the places in which we live, live on — sometimes painfully — in us. This is a powerful, beautiful, and urgently important book."
--Julie Schumacher, author of Dear Committee Members and The Shakespeare Requirement
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 on unconditional love and delight in the natural world. But it came at a price. When Kendra was six, her mother was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease, and she died when Kendra was sixteen. Her family fell apart, even as her father tried to keep them together. Kendra took flight from her bereft family, escaping to the enemy city of Los Angeles, and then Minneapolis, land of all trees, no deserts, no droughts, full lakes, water everywhere you look.
But after years of avoiding the pain of her hometown, she realized that she had to go back, that the desert was the only place she could live. Like Wild, Miracle Country is a story of flight and return, bounty and emptiness, and the true meaning of home. But it also speaks to the ravages of climate change and its permanent destruction of the way of life in one particular town.
"[A] beautiful debut....Atleework's remarkable prose renders the ordinary wondrous and firmly puts this overlooked region of California onto the map."
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"[A] shimmering memoir....A bittersweet tribute to home and family in breathtaking prose that will appeal to lovers of memoirs and history, as well as anyone who enjoys beautifully crafted writing."
Library Journal (Starred Review)
"[A] singular, sympathetic memoir of loss and belonging, set in a troubled state that still occupies so many people's dreams."
Foreword Reviews (Starred Review)
"A sensitive, thoughtful portrait of a part of California that few people see--or want to....A welcome update of classic works on California's arid backcountry by Mary Austin, Marc Reisner, and Reyner Banham." Kirkus Reviews
About the Author
Kendra Atleework received her MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. An essay that formed the basis for a chapter of Miracle Country was selected for The Best American Essays 2015. She is the recipient of the Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award and the AWP Intro Journals Project Award.