26 April 2011

This Life Is in Your Hands; Melissa Coleman

This Life Is in Your Hands: One Family, Sixty Acres, and a Family UndoneThis Life Is in Your Hands: One Family, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone by Melissa Coleman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

As with any memoir, it's suspicious when conversations from an author's early years are remembered verbatim. Of course I'm sure that other people in Liss's life contributed memories to fill in the earlier memories.

In the 70s, the back-to-the-earth movement attracted Ms. Coleman's parents, Sue and Eliot, and they moved to Maine to homestead on 60 acres. The original intention was to live on the land and perhaps $2000/year; within a few years there were apprentices, a thriving food stand and rifts in Sue and Eliot's marriage. After the death of Liss's sister Heidi, Sue's depression and need for "away time" contribute to the break-up of the marriage (even though the end would come a few years later).

Placing each move forward in historical context (although there is one mistake: Charlie Manson never tried to assassinate President Ford, one of his disciples did), this story of both a marriage and a family intermingled with the desire to live a life what we now call "off the grid" has some resonance with today's economic situation. Pointing out decisions by Secretary of Agriculture Butz to promote "Big Agriculture" over more organic, smaller farms, this could have been a polemic against pesticides. Instead, there is more about the relationships and the influences on her parents.

ARC provided by publisher.

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