cover image Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss

Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss

Margaret Renkl. Milkweed, $24 (248p) ISBN 978-1-57131-378-2

In this magnificent debut, essayist Renkl interweaves the natural world of her backyard in Nashville with memories of her childhood and family members. A poetic storyteller, Renkl captures the essence of the moments that shape and haunt her (“The seasons... tell me to wake up, to remember that every passing moment of every careening day is... the only instant I will ever take that precise breath”). She writes of her bungled attempts to stay focused on college amid desperate homesickness, and, later in life, dealing with the illnesses of grandparents as they got older, raising her children and watching them grow, and going through the heart-wrenching farewells to her parents at their deaths. These vignettes are interspersed with her close inspection of and affinity with the birds, bugs, and butterflies in her garden (she contemplates “the full-body embrace of bumblebees in the milkweed flowers, the first dance of the newlyweds”). Renkl instructs that even amid life’s most devastating moments, there are reasons for hope and celebration (“darkness almost always harbors some bit of goodness tucked out of sight, waiting for an unexpected light to shine”). Readers will savor each page and the many gems of wisdom they contain. (July)