"You can’t step in the same river twice—although I once believed I could. I believed that the pieces of my life I had chosen, those I held close to my heart, would, once chosen and held, remain the same."—from the book
How does one recover from disaster? That question is at the heart of Marybeth Holleman’s lyrical, elegiac response to the repercussions of the Exxon Valdez oil spill that devastated Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989. Twining together the destruction of an ecosystem and the disintegration of her marriage, Holleman explores the resiliency of nature—both wild and human—and the ways in which that resiliency is tested. Like the oil that remains pooled beneath rocks years after the tanker spill, the emotional wounds of the past lie just below the surface. Recovery and restoration from the pain wrought by human hands does not come easily.
If much of nature writing is about the heart’s search for an unspoiled, perfect landscape, The Heart of the Sound is about what happens when the return-to-paradise fantasy is over and paradise is lost. In language rich with passion and hard-won insight, Holleman creates a captivating picture of a woman who found her Eden in the sweeping fjords of Alaska only to lose it to ecological tragedy. But somewhere within that loss, she finds herself.