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This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone par [Coleman, Melissa]
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This Life Is in Your Hands: One Dream, Sixty Acres, and a Family Undone Format Kindle

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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

“Intense readability.... haunting power.... as well as lush, vivid atmosphere that is alluring in its own right.... [A] story so nuanced that it would be a disservice to reveal what was in store. If you want to know what happened, read it for yourself.” (Janet Maslin, New York Times)

“A fascinating look at the roots of the organic movement as well as a cautionary tale about the limits of idealism and the importance of forgiveness.” (Washington Post)

“Rendered with sublimity…. [Coleman] fluently describes the power of the natural world, familial love and heartbreak, grace after loss.” (New York Times Book Review)

“Coleman’s moving recounting never loses hope of redemption.” (People, Lead Review "People Pick")

“The Colemans and the Nearings . . . worked hard to create an alternative economy that is still growing in rural America. This memoir is evidence of their great sacrifices. (Los Angeles Times)

“Combine the sincerity of Walden with the poignancy of The Glass Castle, add dashes of the lush prose found in The Botany of Desire, and you get This Life Is in Your Hands…. I was engaged and deeply moved by this evocative tale of Paradise found then lost.” (Wally Lamb, The Hour I First Believed)

“[This] is a rare breed of book-a memoir that justifies its own existence; that feels like it needs to exist…. Coleman shows that without the essential ingredient of heart, any family-no matter how perfect and revolutionary it seems-is in danger of experiencing real loss.” (

“Lyrical and down-to-earth, wry and heartbreaking, This Life Is In Your Hands is a fascinating and powerful memoir. Melissa Coleman doesn’t just tell the story of her family’s brave experiment and private tragedy; she brings to life an important and underappreciated chapter of our recent history.” (Tom Perrotta, author of Little Children and The Abstinence Teacher)

“With beautiful lyrical prose, Coleman shows us what life in a 1970s back-to-nature farm was like, and the dear price her family paid pursuing their dream.” (Ann Hood, author of The Red Thread and The Knitting Circle)

“Her memoir is as wrenching as it is beautifully written.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“Melissa Coleman’s enthralling account of ‘70s 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.” (Heidi Julavits, author of The Uses of Enchantment)

“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.” (Peter Behrens, author of The Law of Dreams)

“An absorbing read that intelligently arrays the romanticism of living off the land against the emotional challenges of moving off the grid.” (Grist Magazine)

“This uncompromising memoir is tender, nonjudgmental, and heartfelt.” (Tuscon Citizen)

“A beautifully rendered memoir about growing up in a unique environment fueled by experimental back-to-the-land living. . . . Coleman illuminates the beauty of growing up in a family culture that valued nature and freedom of expression, but also frankly exposes farming’s negative impact on her family. (Star Tribune)

Présentation de l'éditeur

“Lyrical and down-to-earth, wry and heartbreaking, This Life Is in Your Hands is a fascinating and powerful memoir. Melissa Coleman doesn’t just tell the story of her family’s brave experiment and private tragedy; she brings to life an important and underappreciated chapter of our recent history.” —Tom Perrotta 

In a work of power and beauty reminiscent of Tobias Wolff, Jeannette Walls, and Dave Eggers, Melissa Coleman delivers a luminous, evocative childhood memoir exploring the hope and struggle behind her family's search for a sustainable lifestyle. With echoes of The Liars’ Club and Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight, Coleman’s searing chronicle tells the true story of her upbringing on communes and sustainable farms along the rugged Maine coastline in the 1970’s, embedded within a moving, personal quest for truth that her experiences produced.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 1407 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 341 pages
  • Editeur : HarperCollins e-books; Édition : Reprint (12 avril 2011)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B004HD61J0
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) HASH(0x99fe5d98) étoiles sur 5 136 commentaires
65 internautes sur 65 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9a07bae0) étoiles sur 5 I was swept away 29 janvier 2011
Par Kathleen Derevan - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire d‘un membre du Club des Testeurs ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
I was drawn into this book right away, and could hardly put it down once I started reading. The story takes place in a time that seems at once very recent and very far away indeed. The author was born in the late 60's into a family committed to a life that most would consider intense deprivation, although many aspired to it--the life of the homesteader, who would be beholden to none but him/herself. Her parents had heard the siren song of Helen and Scott Nearing and joined them in Maine, purchasing a plot of land upon which they planned to raise their family by the work of their own hands.

And what a lot of work it was! I was a teenager when the Colemans were setting out to be organic farmers, and I read books by J. I. Rodale and the Nearings, fantasizing about the rural life. In my dreams it was so much more carefree! In fact, it was backbreaking and unceasing labor for the parents, and loneliness for the children, especially the eldest, Melissa, who longed for a friend. Soon enough, there was a baby sister to share the adventures of roaming about the farm in (literally) naked innocence, with the freedom to graze on the ripe fruits and explore the woods. Too much freedom, in fact, which eventually led to tragedy and heartbreak.

The family's story is interwoven with the events going on in the world outside, although for Papa, nothing much mattered on the radio broadcasts except the weather report, as he threw himself into making organic crops, enough to feed his family and grow the farm. Mama had to see to storing food for the long winter months while caring for first one and then two daughters, tending the goats and chickens, and helping with all the other farm chores. As it turned out, the "simple" life was not as simple as it seemed.

It's a heartbreaking and brave memoir. Melissa Coleman tells her story with sympathy for all involved, but doesn't shirk the hard details of just what "living the good life" cost her family.
85 internautes sur 91 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9a07e840) étoiles sur 5 Paradise Lost: Searching for Paradise and Ending up in Purgatory 15 avril 2011
Par Les - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
As someone who grew up in a commune during the 1970s, the same time period described in this book, many of the themes in "This Life is In Your Hands" resonated for me. The sense of disillusionment that many young, college-educated liberals had with the war in Vietnam, political corruption, and the energy crisis (to name just a few of the societal ills of the time) led many to seek an alternative lifestyle. The back-to-the-land movement was a search for a simpler, purer life, or even a search for some version of paradise. Although, as someone in the book is quoted as saying, "the very nature of paradise is that it will be lost."

And my experience was exactly that. No such paradise existed, and many of those who were swept away by this back-to-the-land movement were lost souls. And people who are lost don't make very good, or very responsible, parents. The neglect that Melissa Coleman or "Lissie" and her siblings suffered was somewhat commonplace within hippie families. Basic tenets of childcare were rejected in the name of being healthy and free. In the case of the Coleman family, prenatal care was abandoned, childhood vaccinations (like tetanus shots) were overlooked, and a pond near the farmhouse lacked a fence. I was actually surprised that her parents sent young Lissie to school, but the sense one gets is that this was more about giving her mother a break from childcare, rather than about ensuring that Lissie received a good education.

My immediate emotional reaction to the book was recognition, and hard on the heels of this was sadness. Sadness that the idealism of Lissie's parents, and others like them, caused them to reject the negative parts of their society but fail to retain the positive parts. Sadness that this failure wreaked havoc on the lives of many of the children of my generation. We were often profoundly neglected or even abused so that our parents could "find themselves" in nature.

In terms of the book itself. I found the style of prose lyrical in many places, but also somewhat "spacey" or impressionistic. The descriptions of nature were well done and the reader has a sense of being there. However, the descriptions of events was somewhat odd. Often an event was partially described and then abandoned abruptly. At other times the perspective jumped around from present to past to future which was somewhat disorienting and frankly annoying. Another oddity was that the central tragedy (that comes at the very end of the book) is revealed on the dust jacket. I would have preferred not to have had the climax revealed, so this very much ruined the book for me. Given that I did know about the tragedy that occurred within the family, I was sensitized to the sense of foreboding and pending doom that hovers over the story. Eventually, I became frustrated by this and wanted to simply get to the tragedy itself to end the relentless build-up.

Finally, I think it is a tricky thing to write a memoir while one's relatives are still alive. I had the sense that this would have been a very different book had the author's parents not been living. In fact, I think it would have been a better book because there would have been less of a sense of constraint and self-conscious diplomacy.
56 internautes sur 60 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9a07e84c) étoiles sur 5 Haunting 7 février 2011
Par Rushmore - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire d‘un membre du Club des Testeurs ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
This should be required reading for anyone who only sees the romance of living off the land. As seen through Melissa (Liss) Coleman's eyes, it was hard work, and the experiment ultimately destroyed her family.

Eliot and Sue Coleman were idealistic young people when they purchased 60 acres adjacent to the farm of Helen and Scott Nearing. In fact, the lifestyle values ideals over people. Their three daughters were raised by a passing parade of apprentices while the parents worked very, very hard to realize their dream of living off the land.

Actually I feel that Eliot and Sue were guilty of an insidious form of child abuse. Their daughters did not choose to live that life. As the eldest, Liss was working the farm at a very young age. She was terribly lonely and hungry for friends her own age. The parents seemed to put minimal effort into raising their daughters. Eliot became a kind of prophet, obsessed with his mission of sustainable biological farming. He worked crazy hours. Liss posits that his diet led to a vitamin deficiency and a subsequent thyroid condition. In any event, he eventually rejected his family, not just once but several times. Sue was mentally fragile and incapable of disciplining her daughters. When they got rambunctious, Sue in her own words "checked out." She fasted periodically which weakened her further and kept her less available to her children. The highest price was paid by Heidi, the middle daughter. After a terrible tragedy, any hope the family had of restoring their delicate balance was gone for good.

Melissa Coleman tells her story as more of a reporter than a memoirist. Her voice is somewhat detached but she provides excruciating detail, so the curious reader has a very strong sense of how it felt to live that life. The whole story is told through something of a haze. Although there is evidence of the drugs and free love that permeated the 1970s, it just feels like something that happened in a totally different part of the world.

Ironically, although the Colemans and the apprentices make sarcastic references to Helen and Scott Nearing cheating on the dream, in the end it seems that they were a lot more realistic than the others. When the Maine winter came, they travelled to a warmer climate. They enjoyed some processed foods such as ice cream. They were childless, and Helen in particular stated that the environment was not good for families. In fact Eliot and Sue simply worked too hard on the homestead to have the time or energy for the demanding work of raising their children.

Melissa Coleman is a survivor. However, the life is ultimately more punishing than redeeming. This is a very serious book and a sad one.
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9a07eb70) étoiles sur 5 Very Strange Choices.... 1 mai 2012
Par Kate Smart - Publié sur
Format: Broché
This story filled me with both a mixture of admiration and repulsion: admiration for the deep commitment to one's convictions and the back-breaking work that is involved in homesteading, and repulsion for choices made that are ultimately in deep conflict to the supposed values that the counter-culture claimed to espouse, such as harmonious communal living and the fostering of a deeper spirituality.

I have always been drawn to nature and the idea of living a simpler life. But when it is taken to an extreme - as witnessed by the author of this memoir - it almost seems a form of madness. To me, there is nothing noble about rejecting indoor plumbing, for instance. Proper sanitation did more to save lives than perhaps any other invention. And if you're going to forego a toilet, can you honestly justify laying plastic tarps over crops or having a radio? Why say no to electricity, but drive a jeep? Why adopt a vegan lifestyle out of respect for animals, but shoot raccoons and porcupines because they're getting in the way? How is one animal sacred where another is a nuisance? So much about this lifestyle struck me as arbitrary and even hypocritical.

This story is about people who embraced back-breaking work just for its own sake; physical and mental exhaustion that is - in the modern era - effectively pointless. When electricity was invented, libraries sprung up all over the country and book sales went through the roof. It gave people a chance to read, think, dream. It made homes safer, as people weren't breathing in fumes or setting their houses on fire. It gave people leisure - and that is the cornerstone of authentic progress; when people have time away from toil.

When you aren't slogging a pail to an outhouse 20 times a day, you have an extra moment to do something far more intellectually satisfying - such as learning to play a musical instrument, drawing a picture, etc. Technological advancements, in moderation, improve the quality of life. No one needs a microwave oven or a cell phone. But a toilet? There was something uncivilized about this lifestyle, to me. These people seemed like worker-ants or mice running on an endless treadmill, having no goals other than getting in the next crop. And this goes on, year after is precicely the sort of life that the majority of pioneers even found too difficult to continue, hence the abandoned farms which dotted the American landscape for generations.

Most upsetting when reading this, was how the author and her siblings seemed completely neglected and left to their own devices - to a tragic end, in this case. It just all seemed so needless - needlessly hard, needlessly painful, needlessly all-consuming. You read this and understand why women died so young - the grinding, relentless toil involved in the simplest of tasks, such as cooking a meal, or washing clothes. This is what ages a person. It saps a person of their vitality and joy. The author's mother made my heart break - I kept mentally urging her to leave, to find a normal house with amenities (and a garden) whereby she could have enjoyed her children instead of wishing them away out of sheer exhaustion. Had she not been over-exerting herself perhaps her marriage could have survived, as couples need more in life than just getting through the day. Instead, you witness a couple whose relationship is unraveling, their children are haunted and deprived, and you just wonder why no one said, "This is madness. We need to make things easier."
It is this sentiment that brought humanity out of the dark ages.
Why would anyone choose to go back?
18 internautes sur 20 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
HASH(0x9a07bc0c) étoiles sur 5 Seeking the good life cost them everything 25 mai 2011
Par J. C Clark - Publié sur
Format: Relié Commentaire d‘un membre du Club des Testeurs ( De quoi s'agit-il? )
The Nearings insisted that children would not be helpful in the quest for the good life (and Scott returned letters unopened from his son who had strayed from the party line.) But Melissa Coleman's mother and father tried to raise a family and a good life, and got neither. From my perspective, as one who also read Nearing way back when, it shoulda been easy to see. As one who now realizes the value of a promise and the importance of having some higher, external and eternal principles, the disaster that ensued appears inevitable.

Papa was a man who had strong principles, unless he needed to bend them. No animals harmed, except male kids and marauding raccoons. Nothing from outside the farm, except, well, except plenty. A co-ordinated family working together, except when he was off touring Europe leaving his fragile wife and small children behind. Yes, Papa had strong principles all right, as long as he was the beneficiary. He was a workaholic who felt, as every workaholic does, that his job was so important that any sacrifices suffered were worth it. What a sad tale!

Unfortunately, the author doesn't seem to really understand this, and her analysis suffers. Her father, obsessed with fixing the world and bringing his vision to life, behaved as nearly every utopian thinker eventually does when bringing that utopia to life: he discarded those who impeded the work. Sometimes deliberately, sometimes accidentally. But go they must, and go they did.

So many bad 60s ideas walk across these pages. And it is easy to see why they sounded so good. What could be wrong with peace, love and freedom? Nothing, if the human heart were otherwise. But it wasn't, and isn't, and reality smashed into fantasy, and won.

A well written book, though the first person narrative of events that occurred when she was so young was jarring. I have very few crisp memories from those days, and I think I was relatively aware. But the moods, aura, and subtleties described are just impossible to credit to a five year old's observations. Not a killer, but a problem. But the tale told is so good, and its lessons so profound, that this is a minor, if frequent, irritation.

And Melissa. I wonder if you are still a vegetarian, and if you had your kids vaccinated? As one who would answer yes and no to those questions, it would have been nice to see how much of your upbringing you carried with you.
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