BookPage starred review, February 2019
The world can be a chaotic, terrifying place. That has been evident to Pam Houston since childhood; she was born to reluctant parents whose abuse and neglect echo through her memories. But at age 31, Houston found a plot of land that became a place to heal. She purchased a 120-acre ranch in rural Colorado with money from a book advance—an amount which was far less than the typically recommended 20 percent down payment—and with the faith of the ranch’s previous owner.
In the decades since that bold purchase, Houston has uncovered her identity through her relationship with the property. She shares that journey in Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country, a collection of personal essays that reveals Houston’s process of self-discovery while surrounded by the Colorado mountains. Houston also writes of the challenges of rural living, including a detailed essay about a fire raging through the state toward her land.
“How do we become who we are in the world? We ask the world to teach us. But we have to ask with an open heart, with no idea what the answer will be,” Houston writes in the book’s early pages. Although she examines the forces that uniquely shaped her in Deep Creek, the collection is as universal as it is personal.
“I started writing toward an answer to the question I wake up with every morning and go to bed with every night. How do I find hope on a dying planet, and if there is no hope to be found, how do I live in its absence? In what state of being? Respect? Tenderness? Unmitigated love? The rich and sometimes deeply clarifying dreamscape of vast inconsolable grief?” Houston invites readers into these questions. Deep Creek is one woman’s reckoning of her past and the land where she’s found herself, but it is also a reflection on what it means to be a soft-hearted human in an ever-changing and sometimes frightening world.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our Q&A with Pam Houston for Deep Creek.