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NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From the author of To Shake the Sleeping Self . . .
“Exquisitely written and completely compelling . . . As Jedidiah Jenkins traces a 5,000-mile route with his wildly entertaining mother, Barb, he begins to untangle the live wires of a parent-child bond and to wrestle with a love that hurts.”—Suleika Jaouad, author of Between Two Kingdoms
When his mother, Barbara, turns seventy, Jedidiah Jenkins is reminded of a sobering truth: Our parents won’t live forever. For years, he and Barbara have talked about taking a trip together, just the two of them. They disagree about politics, about God, about the project of society—disagreements that hurt. But they love thrift stores, they love eating at diners, they love true crime, and they love each other. Jedidiah wants to step into Barbara’s world and get to know her in a way that occasional visits haven’t allowed.
They land on an idea: to retrace the thousands of miles Barbara trekked with Jedidiah’s father, travel writer Peter Jenkins, as part of the Walk Across America book trilogy that became a sensation in the 1970s. Beginning in New Orleans, they set off for the Oregon coast, listening to podcasts about outlaws and cult leaders—the only media they can agree on—while reliving the journey that changed Barbara’s life. Jedidiah discovers who Barbara was as a thirty-year-old writer walking across America and who she is now, as a parent who loves her son yet holds on to a version of faith that sees his sexuality as a sin.
Along the way, he peels back the layers of questions millions are asking today: How do we stay in relationship when it hurts? When do boundaries turn into separation? When do we stand up for ourselves, and when do we let it go?
Tender, smart, and profound, Mother, Nature is a story of a remarkable mother-son bond and a moving meditation on the complexities of love.
About the Author
Jedidiah Jenkins is the New York Times bestselling author of To Shake the Sleeping Self and Like Streams to the Ocean. A graduate of USC and Pepperdine University School of Law, Jenkins began his professional career with the nonprofit Invisible Children, where he helped orchestrate multinational campaigns to end the use of child soldiers in central Africa. His parents, Peter and Barbara Jenkins, are the authors of the bestselling A Walk Across America series. He is the executive editor of Wilderness magazine. Jenkins's work has appeared in The Paris Review and Playboy, and he has been covered by National Geographic.
“Tender, funny, and courageous, exquisitely written and completely compelling . . . As Jedidiah Jenkins traces a 5,000-mile route with his wildly entertaining mother, Barb, he begins to untangle the live wires of a parent-child bond and to wrestle with a love that hurts. Their relationship is as complicated as it gets, yet as beautiful as I’ve ever had the privilege to witness in words. I don’t know a single person who wouldn’t benefit from reading Mother, Nature.”—Suleika Jaouad, bestselling author of Between Two Kingdoms
“A gorgeously written story of a mother and son’s journey—across the country, back into the past, over craggy emotional and ideological territory—as they try to find a way forward together . . . Again and again, Jenkins’s conclusions surprised me and made me consider my own ‘deal breakers.’ Ultimately Mother, Nature is a book about love, acceptance, and the freedom that comes from knowing, at long last, the truth. As a mother and as a daughter, I’ll be thinking about the conversations at the heart of this book for a good, long time.”—Maggie Smith, bestselling author of You Could Make This Place Beautiful
“A beautifully crafted road trip through the sad, sweet, aching truths of a mother, a son, her faith, and his reason; a peacemaking of love unresolved and overwhelming.”—Rabbi Steve Leder, bestselling author of For You When I Am Gone
“Mother, Nature may chronicle a familiarly fraught parent-child odyssey, but reading it feels like a soul-soothing stroll. Jenkins’s vulnerable, clear-eyed storytelling is a gift.”—Amanda Montell, author of Cultish
“First of all, fuck Jedidiah Jenkins. As a soon-to-be mother of a son, I am completely gutted by this brilliant book. It’s one of the most vivid and generous accounts of a mother I have ever read, and a master class in confronting unspoken truths—the ones lodged in our throats for years, risking the sting for something sweeter: freedom. At its core, Mother, Nature is an act of devotion and defiance, proving that an imperfect love, ‘a love that limps,’ offers us both.”—Nada Alic, author of Bad Thoughts
“Jenkins, a liberal gay man, and his mother, a conservative Christian woman, are able to find what many people struggle to achieve: a way to peacefully coexist. . . . Their path is not always easy, and some of their conversations are painfully raw, but through it all, their love and respect for each other shine brightly.”—Library Journal, starred review
“Jenkins’s vivid, admiring depiction of Barbara—a woman who loves God, her son, and true crime podcasts with near-equal passion—is wonderfully multidimensional, and his acceptance of their differences lends the memoir an air of maturity. The result is a moving ode to a complicated mother-son bond.”—Publishers Weekly
“Engaging reading for divided times.”—Kirkus Reviews