cover image Fieldwork: A Forager’s Memoir

Fieldwork: A Forager’s Memoir

Iliana Regan. Agate Midway, $27 (344p) ISBN 978-1572843189

In her poignant memoir, chef Regan (Burn the Place: A Memoir) traces her path from growing up on a farm in Indiana to founding a bed and breakfast in northern Michigan. As the youngest of four sisters, Regan foraged in the woods for food, and knew from an early age that she didn’t identify as a girl: “I always thought I was a boy, even before Dad ever said I was,” she writes. In 2019, she opened the Milkweed Inn with her wife, Anna, and the business allowed her to honor her upbringing and flex her creativity. Regan’s lyrical prose evokes the natural world; recalling family dynamics during her childhood, she describes her mom as “the kitchen,” her dad as “the forest,” and herself as “the sheep’s head—wily, twisting—and the honey mushroom—stretching, symbiotic.” She also vividly describes time spent in the forest (“The echo through the trees is like a conch shell over your ear”), but the narrative excels when Regan recalls the grief she felt over the loss of her older sister, who died in jail at the age of 39: “Grief may be the worst thing I’ve ever experienced and at the same time the only thing that keeps me going.” Readers will be moved. (Jan.)