This Life Is in Your Hands

From the flap copy:

Set on a rugged coastal homestead during the 1970s, This Life Is in Your Hands introduces a superb young writer driven by the need to uncover the truth of a childhood tragedy and connect anew with the beauty and vitality of the back-to-the land ideal that shaped her early years.

In the fall of 1968, Melissa Colemanís parents, Eliot and Sue—a handsome, idealistic young couple from well-to-do families—pack a few essentials into their VW bus and abandon the complications of modern existence to carve a farm from the woods. They move to a remote peninsula on the coast of Maine and become disciples of Helen and Scott Nearing, authors of the homesteading bible Living the Good Life. On sixty acres of sandy, intractable land they begin to forge a new existence, subsisting on the crops they grow and building a home with their own hands.

While they establish a happy family and achieve their visionary goals, the pursuit of a purer, simpler life comes at a price. Winters are long and lean, summers frenetic with the work of the harvest, and the distraction of the many young farm apprentices threatens the Colemans' marriage. Then, one summer day when Melissa is seven, her three-year-old sister, Heidi, wanders off and drowns in the pond where she liked to play. In the wake of the accident, ideals give way to human frailty, divorce, and a motherís breakdown—and ultimately young Melissa is abandoned to the care of neighbors. What really happened, and who, if anyone, is to blame?

This Life Is in Your Hands is the search to understand a complicated past; a true story, both tragic and redemptive, it tells of the quest to make a good life, the role of fate, and the power of forgiveness.

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Tom Perrotta

"Lyrical and down-to-earth, wry and heartbreaking, This Life Is in Your Hands is a fascinating and powerful memoir. Melissa Coleman doesnít just tell the story of her familyís brave experiment and private tragedy, she brings to life an important and underappreciated chapter of our recent history."

–author of Little Children, Election, and The Abstinence Teacher

Heidi Julavits

"Melissa Coleman's enthralling†account of 70's back-to-the-land living†is an important cultural and emotional document: this is a story about surviving and, eventually, thriving amidst the shadows of loss."

–author of The Uses of Enchantment

Ann Hood

"With beautiful lyrical prose, Melissa Coleman shows us what life in a 1970s back-to-nature farm was like, and the dear price her family paid pursuing their dream."

–author of The Red Thread

Peter Behrens

"A dream, a family, a heartbreaking tragedy–and a book I could not put down. Melissa Coleman's memoir of a back-to-the-land childhood is fresh, organic, and gorgeously written."

–author of The Law of Dreams

Wally Lamb

"Combine the sincerity of Thoreau's Walden with the poignancy of Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle, add dashes of the lush prose found in Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire, and you end up with Melissa Coleman's This Life Is in Your Hands. Set in that era of earnestness and excess, the freewheeling 1970s, Coleman's story is both an account of her family's experiment in back-to-the-Garden living and a meditation on a childhood that was simultaneously idyllic, magical, baffling, and tragic. From first to last, I was engaged and deeply moved by this evocative tale of Paradise found then lost."
–author The Hour I First Believed, I Know This Much Is True, and She's Come Undone


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