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This Life Is in Your Hands

A true story, both tragic and redemptive, This Life Is in Your Hands tells of the quest to make a good life, the role of fate, and the power of forgiveness.

In the fall of 1968, Melissa Coleman’s parents pack their VW truck and set out to forge a new existence on a rugged coastal homestead. Inspired by Helen and Scott Nearing, authors of the homesteading bible Living the Good Life, Eliot and Sue build their home by hand, live off the crops they grow, and establish a happy family with Melissa and her two sisters. They also attract national media and become icons of the back-to-the-land farming movement, but the pursuit of a purer, simpler life comes at a price. In the wake of a tragic accident, idealism gives way to human frailty, and by the fall of 1968, Greenwood Farm is abandoned. The search to understand what happened is at the heart of this luminous, heartbreaking, and ultimately redemptive memoir.

 

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Reviews of This Life Is in Your Hands

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New York Times, Janet Maslin

“Intense readability . . .haunting power . . . as well as lush, vivid atmosphere that is alluring in its own right. . . . Coleman’s memoir is not one of trendy virtue, but of authenticity. [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.”
Back-to-the-Land Life Recalled in Dark and Light

New York Times Book Review, Megan Mayhew Bergman

“Rendered with sublimity . . . [Coleman] fluently describes the power of the natural world, familial love and heartbreak, grace after loss.”
A Memoir of Living off the Grid

People, People Pick, Ellen Shapiro

“Coleman’s moving recounting never loses hope of redemption.”
People Pick

Los Angeles Times, Susan Salter Reynolds

“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.”
Discoveries

Marie Claire, Kimberly Cutter

“Riveting . . . While the mystery of Heidi’s death is the engine that drives the story, it is Coleman’s clear-eyed portrayal of the wonder and difficulty of living so close to nature that gives the book its power.”
Need to Read

Boston Globe, Kate Tuttle

“Affecting. . . . The book’s lovely and unadorned lyricism shines.”

NPR.org, Rachel Syme

“[This Life Is In Your Hands] is a rare breed of book–a memoir that justifies its own existence; that feels like it needs to exist. What Coleman does so well here is break down a deeply seated myth about giving up the luxuries of city life and returning to the land. . . . 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.”

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