Houston’s...latest essay collection...wields scorching honesty and heartfelt reflection ... Her search for a home to make her own, far from memories and deeply entrenched in the history of the land’s pioneer past, took Houston through a literary reckoning that cuts to the bone while offering succor for a shattered youth. Always impressive, Houston is in striking form here. Her talent remains remarkable and her words extraordinarily affecting and effective.
[Houston has] learned nothing, in other words, between the first pages and the last ... Houston has always wanted to be 'a child of the wilderness,' she tells us, but she’s now an elder; it’s time to do the hard work of connecting the dots between cause and effect... [To do so] would have been the beginning of a decent, possibly instructive memoir, or at least something beyond these sleepy musings.
Reading [Houston's] warm, reflective book about her beloved Colorado ranch is like sitting down with a friend — and after reading it, you understand why some of Houston’s are so devoted they would drive 10 hours through a blizzard to sit with her over a dying dog, or talk their way through roadblocks to rescue her horses from an oncoming wildfire ... [Houston's] writing displays the same attention to particulars demanded by ranch chores. When Houston describes a thunderstorm at high altitude, or the 360-degree view from the top of Copper Mountain, or a first warm day in April, she doesn’t indulge in self-consciously poetic language. Her precise, straightforward prose catalogues vivid physical details that accumulate to give us 'the thing itself' in its specific beauty ... The emotional core of Houston’s narrative lies in the connections she makes between her desolate childhood and her drive 'to love the damaged world and do what I can to help it thrive.'