Skip to content

Reviews

“Renkl scatters short autobiographical essays in between short nature pieces, so that her life story and her life’s passion intertwine, like a fence post and a trumpet vine.”

~Maureen Corrigan for NPR′s Fresh Air

“What books would I want to see included on summer-reading tables everywhere? Two perfect candidates were published this July: first, the much-lauded new novel The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead, the story of a hellish reform school in Florida, and a book of nonfiction by Margaret Renkl called Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss that examines a quiet life through the lens of family and the natural world. I don’t say this lightly, but both deserve to be read for as long as kids have been reading Of Mice and Men.” 

~Ann Patchett for The Wall Street Journal

“A compact glory, crosscutting between consummate family memoir and keenly observed backyard natural history. Renkl’s deft juxtapositions close up the gap between humans and nonhumans and revive our lost kinship with other living things. I hope lots of people will discover it when it’s published this summer.”

~Richard Powers for The New York Times Book Review

“[Renkl] guides us through a South lush with bluebirds, pecan orchards, and glasses of whiskey shared at dusk in this collection of prose in poetry-size bits; as it celebrates bounty, it also mourns the profound losses we face every day.”

~O, the Oprah Magazine

“Late Migrations has echoes of Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life―with grandparents, sons, dogs and birds sharing the spotlight, it’s a witty, warm and unaccountably soothing all-American story.”

~People

“Magnificent. … Conjure your favorite place in the natural world: beach, mountain, lake, forest, porch, windowsill rooftop? Precisely there is the best place in which to savor this book.”

~Barbara J. King for National Public Radio

“Renkl’s contemplations on life and the natural world are compact, luscious, and unexpected—in an instant, they can weave from crushing tragedy to transcendent joy and then simply pause and listen.”

~Nate McNamara for The Literary Hub 

“Graceful. … Like a belated answer to [E.B.] White.”

~Danny Heitman for The Wall Street Journal

“Cherish the dirt, cherish your father, forgive your mother because the only appropriate attitude to adopt towards life is awe. The world is imperfect, always listing deathward, but is worth inhabiting just the same.”

~Austin Adams for the Los Angeles Review of Books

“A lovely collection of essays about life, nature, and family. It will make you laugh, cry―and breathe more deeply.”

~Parade Magazine

“In her poignant debut, a memoir, Renkl weaves together observations from her current home in Nashville and short vignettes of nature and growing up in the South.”

~C.J. Lotz for Garden & Gun

“Margaret Renkl’s Late Migration reads as if made of summer. Short chapters about the natural world interlace with a family story of birth, learning, tragedy, and love set in all seasons. But no matter the actual season, every chapter rustles with tremulous, climactic summer fullness.”

~John Timpane for The Philadelphia Inquirer

“This is a book to linger with. It begs to be felt. It asks its reader to consider home and know that the miracles do not only occur in the large and loud moments, but also ‘in the damp weeds of an ordinary backyard.’”

~Angela Winsor for Southern Humanities Review

“Late Migrations is a book about grief, yet within that grief lies beauty, wonder, and love. It is also a book about nature and family, and it is self-conscious enough to understand that the wild world and the domestic one exist in a braided ecosystem that hums with meaning. It’s Renkl’s ability to lean in and name the heartbreak that makes Late Migrations worth the read.”

~Gretchen Lida for the Washington Independent Review of Books

“A book that will be treasured.”

~Pamela Miller for the Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Contemplative yet powerful. … Renkl is so in touch with the birds and butterflies of her yard that one could mistake her for a trained naturalist.”

~Carla Jean Whitley in BookPage (starred review)

“I can’t help but compile a list of people I want to gift with Late Migrations. I want them to emerge from it, as I did, ready to apprehend the world freshly, better able to perceive its connections and absorb its lessons.”

~Beth Ann Fennelly for Chapter 16

“Margaret Renkl’s Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss is a quiet but stunning collection of essays merging the natural landscapes of Alabama and Tennessee with generations of family history, grief and renewal. Renkl’s voice sounds very close to the reader’s ear: intimate, confiding, candid and alert.”

~Julia Kastner’s starred review in Shelf Awareness

“This book features strong women backed by unyielding family values, carrying with them a formidable backbone as the author narrates her way through childhood and adulthood. There are tales and observations on loss, new life, sorrow, and elation told through ordinary, everyday scenes from her life. Renkl holds up a microscope to her small and sacred memories to make life tangible and unputdownable in the essays in Late Migrations.”

~Jaylynn Korrell for Independent Book Review

“In this magnificent debut, essayist Renkl interweaves the natural world of her backyard in Nashville with memories of her childhood and family members. … Readers will savor each page and the many gems of wisdom they contain.”

~Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“It is a fine feat, this book. Renkl intimately knows that ‘this life thrives on death’ and chooses to sing the glory of being alive all the same.”

~Joan Curbow for Booklist

“A series of redolent snapshots and memories that seem to halt time.”

~Kirkus Reviews

“[Renkl′s] vision is dark – radiant – peaceful – mournful – and joyful, all at once. It is a gift to those of us who look at the small worlds we inhabit – our families, our backyards – and try to make sense of all the pain, and all the joy.”

~Jennifer Puryear for Bacon on the Bookshelf