We are thrilled once again to introduce you to one of our debut authors this year. Please meet Kendra Atleework,an exciting new talent and author of the memoir Miracle Country.
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, 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.
"Drawing parallels between her upbringing and the region's history, [Atleework's] memoir celebrates her home and the region while lovingly portraying her family's eccentricities . . . Captivating storytelling . . . A breathtaking environmental history.” —PopMatters
"I felt the thrill I once knew reading Annie Dillard for the first time." —Luis Alberto Urrea
Read an Excerpt
After her mother's death, Kendra escaped to Los Angeles, and then Minneapolis, land of tall trees, full lakes, water everywhere you look—the opposite of her hometown—before returning. Here, Kendra writes about what being from this part of the world means:
"To understand the place we call the Eastern Sierra, you must be able to see what is no longer here. See what hides, change your definition of big and empty and small, of good and bad. Bend and search the desert floor for the near-invisible petals of a crowned muilla and then look up to mountains that seem to rise forever. This dusty margin of California draws and then replicates the kind of people who have never completely adjusted to a human scale. They don’t quite fit other places, be it the orbit of their ideas, good and bad, or the size of the sky they require in order to carry out their lives."
Kendra takes us on a tour of her home, showing us Bishop and the mountains, the people and her life in the Eastern Sierra Nevada.
Five Places to See in the Eastern Sierra Region
What are Kendra's recommendations for visitors to her hometown? "This is a bit like trying to rank your children—my dad and I co-wrote a recreation guidebook for our area he sells locally. This process consisted of my distilling more than three decades of knowledge from his head and writing it down, about all the hundreds of lifetimes worth of amazing things to do and see here."
She did manage to narrow it down for us to five must-see natural attractions in the Eastern Sierra region for us. (Thanks, Kendra!) Plus she shared locals' favorite spots.
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