Unfortunately, with every relationship comes heartache, and there’s no one better to dissect the medical, physical and emotional repercussions of a broken heart than science journalist Florence Williams ... To those who have read Williams’ The Nature Fix, it should come as no surprise that the end result is a masterful blend of investigative reporting and personal narrative, chock-full of fascinating insights, gorgeous nature writing and an ample helping of compassion.
... a raw and exhaustively reported exploration of her suffering, the kind of reportage engaged in by Michael Pollan as he looked at his diet and his brain, or Ross Douthat when coping with his chronic Lyme disease; the kind when a journalist lands on a rich subject because he or she happens to be living it ... she reprises that kind of determined, deep-dive reporting, this time seeking the same healing for her shattered self ... She writes eloquently of her misery ... This is one of the joys of reading a gifted science journalist: You learn so much stuff without having to study it yourself. At the same time, she enlists a dizzying, and sometimes distracting, number of people—not just all those researchers but historical figures: William James! Simone Weil!—in her attempt to understand why she was so miserable and what it would take to feel better ... Impressive mastery of the material, to be sure, but sometimes the density feels as if we are racing past one billboard after another, each offering respite at the elusive next rest stop.
... edifying and entertaining ... Through it all, Williams is disarmingly open about her loneliness, embarrassment (forays into dating, oh my!) and vulnerability. She teaches, confides and encourages—and offers a thrilling account of her debut solo whitewater rafting trip, too. Hilariously, both a portable toilet and a parasol figure prominently in said trip, as well as an action movie’s worth of unpredictable rapids, self-recrimination and stunning vistas. It’s a perfect metaphor for her fascinating, memorable quest to survive and thrive in an often-heartbreaking world.