Ecology of a Cracker Childhood
From the memories of a childhood marked by extreme poverty, mental illness, and restrictive fundamentalist Christian rules, Janisse Ray crafted a “heartfelt and refreshing” (New York Times) memoir that has inspired thousands to embrace their beginnings, no matter how humble, and to fight for the places they love. This new edition updates and contextualizes the story for a new generation and a wider audience desperately searching for stories of empowerment and hope.
Ray grew up in a junkyard along U.S. Highway 1, hidden from Florida-bound travelers by hulks of old cars. In language at once colloquial, elegiac, and informative, Ray redeems her home and her people, while also cataloging the source of her childhood hope: the Edenic longleaf pine forests, where orchids grow amid wiregrass at the feet of widely spaced, lofty trees. Today, the forests exist in fragments, cherished and threatened, and the South of her youth is gradually being overtaken by golf courses and suburban development. A contemporary classic, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood is a clarion call to protect the cultures and ecologies of every childhood.
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Praise and Prizes
“The forests of the southeast find their Rachel Carson.”
New York Times
“Janisse Ray knows that her region’s story and her own story are inseparable; in many ways they are the same story. To tell that story as well as she tells it here is at once to show what has gone wrong and to light the way ahead.”
“In this time of unparalleled cynicism, any writer capable of imagining Paradise rebuilt on the ruins of a junkyard ought to command our attention, if not our humble gratitude.”
“Suffused with the same history-haunted sense of loss that imprints so much of the South and its literature. But what sets Ecology of a Cracker Childhood apart is the ambitious and arresting mission implied in its title. Heartfelt and refreshing.”
New York Times Book Review
“Open any page and out will fall words like pressed flowers and autumn leaves.”