Shadow Mountain
by Renee Askins


Doubleday, 2002. ISBN 0385482221.
Reviewed by Gloria Cordova
Posted on 02/03/2003

Nonfiction: Memoir; Nonfiction: Nature/Place/Environment; Nonfiction: Active Life

"This book contains the stories of my travels, written with a compulsion to discover, through a maze of memories, the meaning of these many years." (Prologue)

Askins tells us that she wrote the story to discover meaning. She writes her story of promise and commitment and transformational learning like an artist painting a magnificent wilderness scene of a special place she loves, with her soul in the colors, shades, and detail. Her story tells how profoundly animals influenced her way of being in the world. From conception to the actualization of The Wolf Fund and the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park, Askins not only documents the scientific and organizational development of the project but also the political and community struggles of the work. In doing so, she weaves through the story her personal life thread, telling us that the tangles and knots hold the story and the keys to understanding the story (p.x).

I resonated with her struggles through the dissonance and how she learned from all the problems that presented themselves in her experiences. Her story telling reflects her attentive practice of thoughtfulness. Askins recognized the challenges in her life, as she moved her vision into the reality of reintroducing wolves in Yellowstone. She also recognized the support she experienced from loves, friends, family, and diverse communities during this process. Experience taught her "how difficult it is to live a vision." (p.123)

My deep interest in social change had me silently applauding Askins through the phases of the project. She reminded me how essential it is to listen and to help others hear their own voices when advocating value shifts and implementing social change. Askins' story is about meaning making and her search for what it means to be human by honoring the wild.


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