cover image Wild Life: Finding My Purpose in an Untamed World

Wild Life: Finding My Purpose in an Untamed World

Rae Wynn-Grant. Get Lifted, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-1-6389-3040-2

In this poignant debut memoir, Wynn-Grant recounts her bumpy path to becoming a wildlife ecologist. Growing up in San Luis Obispo, Calif., Wynn-Grant dreamt of hosting the nature shows she watched voraciously, whose exotic, biodiverse locales offered a stark contrast to her own backyard. As she got older and grew “painfully aware” of the prejudices she faced as a Black woman in the sciences, she came to accept that there was “no pathway” for her to become a nature show host. Instead, after a transformative semester in Kenya, Wynn-Grant set her sights on becoming a conservation ecologist, who “worked to find ways to keep wild animals, landscapes, and ecosystems thriving.” Her subsequent studies at Emory, Yale, and Columbia took her to Central Africa to study gorillas; to Minnesota, where she watched a team of conservationists revive a dead mother bear; and back to California, where she was moved to tears after spotting her first whale. Along the way, she catalogs her professional successes and stumbles, her brushes with racism, and the personal struggles that paralleled her professional ascent, including the dissolution of her first marriage. Throughout, Wynn-Grant’s passion and tenacity are on full display, elevating the narrative from travelogue to stirring underdog story. It’s an adventure worth taking. Agents: Steve Troha and Jamie Chambliss, Folio Literary. (Apr.)