Friday, March 10, 2023

Forager: Field Notes for Surviving a Family Cult: A Memoir by Michelle Dowd

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)

about book: (summary from Goodreads)

A moving, heartbreaking, and inspiring true story of the author’s escape from an apocalyptic cult—and the deep understanding of the natural world that helped her find freedom. 
My family prepared me for the end of the world, but I know how to survive on what the earth yields. 
Michelle Dowd grew up on a mountain in the Angeles National Forest, born into an ultra-religious cult—the Field, as members called it—run by her grandfather, who believed that his chosen followers must prepare themselves to survive doomsday. Bound by the group’s patriarchal rules and literal interpretation of the Bible, Michelle and her siblings lived a life of deprivation, isolated from Outsiders and starved for both love and food. She was forced to learn the skills necessary to battle hunger, thirst, and cold; she learned to trust animals more than humans; and most important, she learned how to survive by foraging for what she needed. And as Michelle got older, she realized she had the strength to break free. Focus on what will sustain, not satiate you, she would tell herself. Use everything. Waste nothing. Get to know the intricacies of the land like the intricacies of your body. And so she did.

With haunting and stark language, and illustrations of edible plants and their uses opening each chapter, Forager is a fierce and empowering coming-of-age story and a timely meditation on the ways in which harnessing nature’s gifts can lead to our freedom.

my thoughts:

Wow! What a fascinating read. Michelle Dowd's memoir about growing up in The Field doomsday cult is personal, eye-opening, and thoughtful. She starts each chapter with an edible plant and how to use it, which related to the education she received from The Field. Nature was integral to her survival within the cult and as a means for her to find the courage to leave it. Forager: Field Notes for Surviving a Family Cult is a slow-burn chock full of memories about Michelle's relationship with her mother, the lack of love she was shown, the lessons she received on how to be a survivalist, and the various abuses she endured. It is an emotional and introspective book. 

I found myself caught up in Michelle's recollections and thinking about her life and how young she was at the time.  Her life was so cut off from the rest of the world and the loneliness she must have felt, especially when she began questioning it all. And, the way nature impacted her life - learning to live off the land, the dangers and beauties of nature, and the vastness of it all. She's a strong woman who experienced so much so young and was able to find a way out of a living nightmare. Talk about the epitome of brave. 

I would definitely recommend, Forager, to anyone and everyone - you are going to fall in deep with this book. Make sure to get your hands on a copy ASAP!

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

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