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Publishers Weekly, 2003-05-12 San Francisco Bay Area Buddhist writer Gates unites geology, ecology and reflections on life as a mother, neighbor and cancer survivor in a memoir-meditation on the meaning of home. Gates takes readers along on walks through her gentrifying Berkeley neighborhood as she pursues the questions of who she is and where she belongs. She has left the East Coast and is slowly taking root, like her garden, in the community where she ended up for no particularly compelling reason in her early adulthood. So transplanted, her life and awareness blossom slowly, through marriage, motherhood and neighborhood. The path is not smooth: breast cancer threatens her when her daughter is only five years old, but the cancer also serves to awaken a sense of the preciousness and precariousness of everyday life. Gates is a lyrical and ambitious writer, notwithstanding the ostensibly quotidian subject of domestic life. Her book is nicely structured to develop subtly toward resolution, though sometimes the chronology of events she cites is a little confusing. Some of the widely varied threads she weaves together are especially engaging and ask for more detail: her alcoholic neighbor with family troubles and a love of dogs; her encounter, through breast cancer, with mortality, a traditional Buddhist topic. On the whole, however, this nicely written book shows the world in the grains of sand and archaic shells left on Berkeley's shore. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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