From Publishers Weekly
Though Klindienst imposes a strong philosophical structure on the narratives in this poetic collection, her political interpretations come second to the beauty and humor in what is essentially a set of portraits of both American gardens and gardeners. Woven into these stories are wide-ranging details of agricultural history: how to make blue corn piki bread, how the injustice of post-emancipation land sales affected one farmer, the fragrance of the sweet-sticky-pumpkin flower brought by refugees from Cambodia. Klindienst's writing shines when recounting her conversations with farmers, but her analysis of "hunger for community" and how a "garden can be a powerful expression of resistance" feels awkward. Luckily, between the prologue and the epilogue, Klindienst provides an unpretentious and touching tour of the increasingly rare corners of the country where land is worked by friendly locals who know the differences between five types of basil and can jaw for hours about plants, soil and the weather: "Oh golly let me see. It would be the bush beans," says one woman when asked about the type of seed she's been saving the longest (70 years, in this case). This book's broad scope touches on the best of nature writing, singing the rhythm of growth in both plants and people.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Klindienst celebrates gardens created by immigrants who resisted the intense pressure to assimilate into mainstream American society, in a lyrical account of her three-year journey to collect the stories of ethnic Americans for whom gardening is tantamount to cultural endurance. Survivors of the Pol Pot regime fled the killing fields of Cambodia for the healing fields of New England, while the Yankee inheritor of land wrested generations ago from Native Americans during the infamous Pequot Massacre of 1637 atones for that atrocity through the simple act of sharing seeds of corn with the tribe's descendants. Klindienst profiles 15 valiant and thoughtful gardeners intent on preserving their native birthright and on restoring and protecting their adopted land, individuals and families evincing a stewardship that not only resists cultural absorption but also sustains an ecological imperative. Carol HaggasCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved