My happy place in life is also my happy place in words—with nature. The book could be the history of a plant or tree or the natural world herself playing a character. That old conflict of man vs. nature is such a large part of our world, even when we’re under stay at home orders during a pandemic. I have a hardy appreciation for those who approach this subject well. Anthony Doerr is one of them.
If I admire an author, I’ll read all their works. All the Light We Cannot See was terrific and deserves the praise it receives. Last summer, someone recommended The Shell Collector, and that was what hooked me to Doerr’s work. Most recently, I have been escaping into the frozen winters of Alaska and the tropical island days of the Caribbean in About Grace. In each location of the book, nature is not only an element setting a mood outside of the window. She’s a mighty character.
We follow David Winkler, who studies water, especially snow, and the younger Naaliyah, who studies insects and crustaceans. Our third main character has her own agenda. “The wind assumed its voice: moaning against the window, humming around the roof corners; hissing through drafts. It whispered about darkness, about the coming shadows. Let go, it said, let go.”
Doerr evokes the power and cyclical rhythm of nature, seasons, and time. Even with characters who live in reverence of the natural world, they can’t compare with her. She exists not in the service of people but has her own story to tell.
About Grace by Anthony Doerr. Simon & Schuster, October 2015
Reviewer bio: Christy O’Callaghan lives in Upstate, New York. Her favorite pastimes include anything in the fresh air. For her blog and writing, go to christyflutterby.com.