This Life Is in Your Hands

From the paperback flap copy:

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.

Order This Life Is in Your Hands


This Life Is in Your Hands

Audiobook Read by the Author

Unabridged: 9 hours and 38 minutes


Tom Perrotta

"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."

–author of Little Children, Election, and The Abstinence Teacher

Heidi Julavits

"Melissa Coleman's enthralling account of 70's 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."

–author of The Uses of Enchantment

Ann Hood

"With beautiful lyrical prose, Melissa Coleman shows us what life in a 1970s back-to-nature farm was like, and the dear price her family paid pursuing their dream."

–author of The Red Thread

Peter Behrens

"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."

–author of The Law of Dreams

Wally Lamb

"Combine the sincerity of Thoreau's Walden with the poignancy of Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle, add dashes of the lush prose found in Michael Pollan's The Botany of Desire, and you end up with Melissa Coleman's This Life Is in Your Hands. Set in that era of earnestness and excess, the freewheeling 1970s, Coleman's story is both an account of her family's experiment in back-to-the-Garden living and a meditation on a childhood that was simultaneously idyllic, magical, baffling, and tragic. From first to last, I was engaged and deeply moved by this evocative tale of Paradise found then lost."
–author The Hour I First Believed, I Know This Much Is True, and She's Come Undone


Order Online:

Visit My Favorite Local Bookstores: