Book Review

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer - Reviewed by Rikki Schlosser 2019

I read this book while on vacation in Mexico in January of 2019. The book is a poetic story told in a manner that is easy to read and relate to. It is a story that holds your interest. It is not a text book or a "how to" book. It is a book that asks for understanding.

So much subtle information about indigenous mythology and beliefs are transmitted in the pages of this book that it is not until you have finished reading it that your realize just how much you have learned. It is so skillfully interwoven with the scientific study of plants and the personal experiences of the author that it can only be understood as a whole. The authors' passion for both science and our relations with the earth are evident in every page. 

As someone who has always had a challenge with reconciling science and spirit, she has somehow bridged this gap for me in a way that I can follow. This was most clearly explained in her chapter "Asters and Goldenrod". 

Ms. Kimmerer is also a realist in that she acknowledges that people whether indigenous or settler will always have an impact on the environment, but tells us that we can choose how we impact it. Some things are helpful, others are not. Her example quoted below would be to try and become like the plaintain. "Naturalized" to be useful and fit into the small places.

"... to strive to become naturalized to place, to throw off  the mindset of the immigrant. Being naturalized  to place means to live as if this is the land that feeds you, as if these are the streams from which you drink, that build your body and fill your spirit. To become naturalized is to know that your ancestors lie in this ground. Here you will give your gifts and meet your responsibility. To become naturalized is to live as if your children's future matters, to take care of the land as if our lives and the lives of our relatives depend on it. Because they do."

 - Pg. 217

There were many passages in this book that made my heart weep in pain, regret and sympathy. Yet there was also hope in the wisdom that was shared in every page and following that with every person who reads those pages and takes one more step on the path to understanding. 

As soon as I finished reading this book I knew I would read it again and that it would become a treasured friend that I would recommend reading to everyone.