Soil: The Story of a Black Mother’s Garden

S. & S. May 2023. 336p. ISBN 9781982195304. $28.99. MEMOIR
When Dungy and her family moved to Fort Collins, CO, in 2013, she wanted to create a garden of drought-tolerant and pollinator-supporting plants, but the community had restrictions on what could be grown. In resistance to these homogenous policies, her garden became a vehicle for observations on her life, motherhood, the past, current events, and environmental justice. In this book, Dungy (English, Colorado State Univ.; Guidebook to Relative Strangers) uses her garden as a way to reflect on her heritage and her life. Along the way, she imparts lessons to readers about interconnectedness, belonging, language and learning, all the while writing about pressing environmental issues, such as global warming, natural disasters, and urbanization. Dungy further explores the challenges of being Black in the United States, particularly after the 2016 election. She also comments on the effects that segregation has on Black people and the erasure of people of color from environmental narratives. The author examines life in the COVID era by showing the difficulties of balancing a career and parenthood during a period of additional demands and uncertainty. Throughout, Dungy deftly interconnects environment and social justice issues.
VERDICT A poignant portrait of life and its challenges, told through the beauty of nature.
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