Miracle Country is a memoir of a person, a family, and a place. Kendra grew up in Swall Meadows, California, in the Owens Valley of the Eastern Sierra Nevada near Bishop, where annual rainfall averages five inches and in drought years measures closer to zero.
Kendra’s parents taught their children to thrive in this beautiful, if harsh, landscape, prone to wildfires, blizzards, and gale-force winds. Above all, they were raised on unconditional love and delight in the natural world. After Kendra’s mother died of a rare autoimmune disease when Kendra was just sixteen, however, her once beloved desert world came to feel empty and hostile, as climate change, drought, and wildfires intensified.
The Atleework family fell apart, even as her father tried to keep them together. Kendra escaped to Los Angeles, and then Minneapolis, land of tall trees, full lakes, water everywhere you look.
But after years of avoiding her troubled hometown, she felt pulled back. Miracle Country is a moving and unforgettable memoir of flight and return, emptiness and bounty, the realities of a harsh and changing climate, and the true meaning of home. For readers of Cheryl Strayed, Terry Tempest Williams, and Rebecca Solnit, this is a breathtaking debut by a remarkable writer.
“This eloquent narrative is both a natural history of the author’s homeplace, a seemingly arid region, and a loving portrait of an extraordinary family. Atleework has an uncanny wisdom and a deep sense of people and their origins and she writes like an angel.”
— Charles Baxter
“I felt the thrill I once knew reading Annie Dillard for the first time.”
— Luis Alberto Urea
Published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.
2020, 322 pages, 2 maps, 5.75” x 8.5” paperback