For July’s book review, I thought I’d share an older book with you, but one I highly recommend for many reasons. I will use it in my upcoming Spiritual Memoir Workshops this month, so it’s the perfect time to introduce you to Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place by naturalist and writer from northern Utah, Terry Tempest Williams.

I first became aware of Terry Tempest Williams when I attended a nature writing conference in Squaw Valley, California, years ago. Terry was so kind in her conversations with me and encouraged me in my writing pursuits as I had just come back to the craft after fifteen years of not writing at all. Her soft-spoken assurances and her love of language made such a difference in what I thought was possible for me.

Refuge interweaves the loss of Williams’ mother and grandmother to cancer, the disastrous flooding of a cherished bird refuge, and the American government’s nuclear weapons testing in the 1950’s West in this profoundly moving book. This book is about change, death, destruction, nature, place, and faith. As Williams writes in the book, “I am slowly, painfully discovering that my refuge is not found in my mother, my grandmother, or even the birds of Bear River. My refuge exists in my capacity to love. If I can learn to love death then I can begin to find refuge in change.”

To read an insightful interview with Terry Tempest Williams about this book and much more, click here.

Author Louise Erdrich writes that Refuge is, “A record of loss, healing grace, and the search for a human place in nature’s large design. Terry Tempest Williams’s courage is matched by the earnest beauty of her language and the keen compassion of her observations.”

Have you read Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place? If so, please comment below to let us know what it meant to you. If not, consider reading this powerful, poignant book this month.

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