Walking Nature Home: A Life’s Journey by Susan J. Tweit – Book Review

I love me a good book recommendation, so when a fellow writer Facebook friend (hi James) let me know about a memoir that he said was teaching him how to write his memoir by its example, my ears perked up.

walkingnatureBut what really made me pay attention was when the author joined in the conversation and left these remarks about the art of memoir writing.

It’s what you’ve learned from your life, not so much what you’ve done. A well-considered life is often more compelling than a dramatic one….

And

If I had to define the art of writing a memoir in a few words, I would say it’s in the reflection and storytelling. Memoir translates what you’ve learned from life into a story so compelling that it inspires even those who had no idea they would be interested in what you write about.

Twins daughters from different mothers. That author, Susan J. Tweit managed to say so clearly what it is I have been trying to say for years –

A memoir is not about climbing the mountain. It’s about how you climbed it, the stumbles along the way, and what you learned when you finally reached the top.

I ordered Susan’s book Walking Nature Home: A Life’s Journey and started reading.

Walking Nature Home is the story of a woman who, diagnosed with a non-specific connective tissue disease, was given 2 to 5 years left to live. The book tells of how she connected (intentional pun) with her body and nature to get the strength to move on with her life. Susan’s story is uplifting and it gives hope to others who might be in similar life-challenging situations.

My Facebook friend was right. Susan does a masterful job of keeping a solid theme running through her book, the red thread of her life that begins in childhood when her father taught her about the constellations and ends with her gazing out a skylight at the stars content with her life can so clearly be followed throughout the book.

Each chapter is centered on a major star constellation which is introduced with the stars’ history and mythology. These stories of the stars are then personified by Susan’s life experiences and insights.

The organization and woven structure of this memoir is a tapestry to behold. It’s one of those stories that becomes a meditation in reading. Never once does Susan veer from her stated theme of nature, in fact, she keeps it as deeply ingrained as her breathing is to her body. Like meditation, Susan constantly comes back to her breathing- her connection with nature, the reason for her being.

If memoir is your genre (and even if it’s not), I highly recommend taking a look at Walking Nature Home, both for the inspiring story, as well as its brilliant memoir structure.

***

Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com) She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

 

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