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Summary

Selected as a TODAY Show #ReadWithJenna book club pick, Late Migrations is an unusual, captivating portrait of a family - and of the cycles of joy and grief that inscribe human lives within the natural world - from beloved New York Times opinion writer Margaret Renkl.

Growing up in Alabama, Renkl was a devoted reader, an explorer of riverbeds and red-dirt roads, and a fiercely loved daughter. Here, in brief essays, she traces a tender and honest portrait of her complicated parents - her exuberant, creative mother; her steady, supportive father - and of the bittersweet moments that accompany a child’s transition to caregiver.

And here, braided into the overall narrative, Renkl offers observations on the world surrounding her suburban Nashville home. Ringing with rapture and heartache, these essays convey the dignity of bluebirds and rat snakes, monarch butterflies and native bees. As these two threads haunt and harmonize with each other, Renkl suggests that there is astonishment to be found in common things: in what seems ordinary, in what we all share. For in both worlds - the natural one and our own - “the shadow side of love is always loss, and grief is only love’s own twin.”

Gorgeously illustrated by the author’s brother, Billy Renkl, Late Migrations is an assured and memorable debut.

©2019 by Margaret Renkl. (P)2019 Brilliance Publishing, Inc., all rights reserved.

Critic reviews

"Joyce Bean's narrations are always genuine and down-to-earth, and this performance of Margaret Renkl's short essays on the natural world and her family is no different." —AudioFile Magazine 

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  • Jennifer N Talbert
  • 19-07-19

Excellent!

Wow! What a great listen! Highly recommend. Was not expecting to get testy, but for anyone with a less than perfect relationship with their parents- this made me want to call my mom and talk:) love the story interwoven with interesting garden and bird information- can’t wait to share this with my other science teacher colleagues!

114 people found this helpful

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  • Mb4pax
  • 29-12-19

Not my cup of tea, but well-written

Beautifully written essays of small episodes of life, particularly wildlife. Often the stories are told with the underlying theme of the ebb and flow of living - being born into life and ultimately dying - humans and other life alike. However, after 30 or so stories, I grew weary, of so weary, of the the theme. I moved on.

30 people found this helpful

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  • Anastasia
  • 07-01-20

Specific Audience

A perfect book for melancholy bird lovers, unfortunately I am not a melancholy bird lover.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Kimberly
  • 20-01-20

Lovely

I came close to shelving this book of brief essays as poetry, because the language is often as direct and lyrical as a poem. I could have shelved it as natural history for the author’s observations of the wildlife in her suburban environment. The details she gives of growing up in southern Alabama, her grandmother’s stories, being a caregiver to her parents give it the appeal of a memoir. This is a comfort read to be sure, though it isn’t a passive one. It gently nudges you toward consideration of your own place in the world.
The expert narration by Joyce Bean made the audiobook a certain delight. Not only did she give the author a fine voice, but she brought her family to life as well..
Altogether lovely.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Laurie A. Bobskill
  • 01-01-20

What a gem. What an unexpected gift.

Just buy it and listen to it. I am so glad I did. It's like nothing else I've ever listened to or read.

3 people found this helpful

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  • jeanne
  • 04-01-20

Thoughtful and Inspiring

A collection of poems from a journal makes listening easy. The subjects are universal and some read like a haiku, although they aren’t. The narrator has a strong, firm voice which complements the softly stirring images.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Blithe Alden
  • 04-01-20

Moving and poetic

Tales of family and the natural world, reflecting on the joys and griefs of living.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Underporch
  • 04-01-20

A Wonderful Eye for Detail

I bought this on a lark, knowing nothing about the author. Now I'm recommending it to my friends--especially the ones dealing with loss. Margaret Renkl writes such perfect little essay gems, each one self-contained but also contributing to the overarching thesis: that we are all part of the greater natural world from birth through death, and our world is full of wonder and joy, as well as moments of profound sadness and grief (and all the very human moments of irritation and anxiety in-between). So many of her anecdotes spoke to me about my own relationships and gave me new perspectives.

I'm so glad she didn't end up devoting her life to post-modern literary analysis; what a loss that would have been.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Marla Lyons
  • 03-01-20

Could have been better

No plot + no character development = no interest for me. It lacked empathy. Disappointed.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anita P
  • 17-02-21

Beautiful memoir

Gorgeous poetic reflections read with love by the author. Inspiring and a testament to life in middle tennessee.