In a society where everyone is told to get and education and get a good job, Paul Rosolie never felt much at home. School was a struggle and at times the relationship with his parents was strained. The only place that Paul felt content and alive was in nature and in the presence of animals. Once he reached the point of realizing that a conventional education was not for him, Paul, with the support of his parents, took his GED and began taking college courses and working. During this time, he contacted countless researchers, environmental organizations and scientists with the hope that a team would take an inexperienced kid with the love of the wild on. Luckily for Paul, one did. This incredible chance lead Paul into the heart of the Amazon in Peru.
Once in the Amazon, Paul comes under the tutelage of researchers Emma and JJ, whom he forms a close bond with, JJ particularly, and he throws himself passionately into the work at the research center. There is much to see and learn from the jungle and Paul wastes no time digging in. He quickly learns about the many complexities of the rainforests and all of the animals, insects and plants within. When he finally has to return home, Paul knows that he must return to the Madre de Dios (Mother of God) region as much as he can and as soon as possible.
Rosolie lays out the massive levels of delicate complexities that lie within the rainforests that he has come to think of as a home. There are poachers, loggers, tribes, locals, oil companies and researchers that all find their own reasons for seeking out the Amazon. For Paul, it is the conservation and preservation of the land, the animals that lie within and trying to uncover the secrets of the untouched areas of the deep forests. The message of the book is clear; the world needs the rainforests of the Amazon in order to thrive and we all need to pay attention to what is happening there, even if it seems so very far away.
The author tells his story as a friend; he shares his fears, his brilliant discoveries/observations, both in the natural world and of himself in a gracious, relatable way. While Mother of God does not unfold as a typical coming of age story for Rosolie, it is undeniable how much he learns, grows and changes. He accepts wisdom from the land, his elders and accepts his mistakes and even when he puts himself in danger, he trusts his gut and his thoughts. The land and the inhabitants that call the lush rainforest home are presented intelligently and carefully detailed. Rosolie and his work transport the reader to a land many will never see, but all should be aware of.
Lauren Cannavino is a graduate student, freelance writer, wine lover, and avid reader. Random musings can be found over at www.goldiesays.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by HarperCollins. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.