Like nothing else in the newspaper, [these essays] burst with awareness of the things of nature, awareness that our lives are led in that midst, permeated with and part of the natural world. All is written with an open, joyful, yet steady voice of wonder ... [Renkl] may not know the science (although she knows the names of birds and plants with precision) but she knows the glory. That’s what poets do: They enact the impact of the real on our open minds and call on us to share the wonder ... The book, although it covers many emotions, owns the hush of high summer ... Margaret Renkl is the most sensible of spiritual writers. She’s not going to fool herself about the world. Late Migrations sings, nevertheless, the best praise we can offer, praise that need not be pinned down to any single doctrine or teaching. She finds the whole world holy and is moved to praise at every turn. That’s enough to warm a lifetime of summers.
...a jeweled patchwork of nature and culture that includes her own family. This woven tapestry makes one of all the world's beings that strive to live—and which, in one way or another, face mortality ... the experience of reading Late Migrations becomes active, engaged, and lively ... Drawings by Billy Renkl—yes, the brother about whom the author worried, who here has created a marigold, a blue jay, a fig, a thunderstorm, with an artist's sure touch—lend extra colors and grace to the book ... Late Migrations is an ideal summer read ... magnificent.
Disturbing images pop up with spooky regularity in Late Migrations ... And yet all told, Late Migrations is a lovely book, made up of short essays that alternate unexpected observations about nature with brief but telling stories ... this is a relatable and resonant book across geographies and traditions ... The juxtaposition of family histories with observations from the natural world seems designed to remind us how biological we humans are, and how much our days and fates are shaped by forces beyond our control. It’s an effective construct, and the sparse simplicity with which Renkl records her observations and emotions belies the profound truths she is presenting ... Late Migrations is a book that will be treasured most by middle-age readers who are losing, or have lost, beloved parents; who are looking back across their own lives ... Renkl captures it well and lifts her examination of loss to a higher and somehow buoying plane by showing that it is no more or less than what happens every day in our backyards, gardens, pastures and forests. But it is our uniquely human gift to love so hard that we are doomed to grief when loss occurs.