This Life Is in Your Hands by Melissa Coleman
Harper • $25.99 • ISBN 9780061958328
April 12, 2011

If you've ever thought about leaving it all for a simpler life, Melissa Coleman's memoir is for you. Her idealistic young parents left academic life to live on a Maine homestead in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Coleman was born during their first year on the property; sisters Heidi and Clare followed.  They build a happy life there until toddler Heidi dies accidentally.

In this excerpt, the Colemans are seeing their land for the first time:

From the branches of a tree at the top of the slope they could see out to the ocean surrounding the cape on three sides. They also noticed a knoll where the forest opened up around what turned out to be a beautiful ash with a broad trunk and wide arching branches, a possible site for the house, and upon investigation they found a clear drinking water spring in the woods to the east. Their excitement dipped only when Papa took a spade to the earth to find sand and rock beneath the humus layer of forest floor.

"Poor soil," he muttered. This was not the dream farm he'd had in his mind's eye during the search, lacking as it did cultivated fields and a pond. But none of that mattered; it was their ground on which to stand, unbeholden to a mortgage or a bank, and it was up to them to make it into the dream.

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