Book Review: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Reviewed by Talara Blackwood, a guest at NPA Book Club

Braiding Sweetgrass truly is a book like no other. Each chapter is its own unique journey told in Kimmerer’s whimsical storytelling structure (which some readers mentioned initially struggling to follow). 

Kimmerer interweaves science, Indigenous stories and knowledge, and personal experience to explore the many lessons we can learn from plants. She is a Potawatomi woman from upstate New York and a professor of botany. 

Her deep love, observation, and knowledge of plants and animals, who she refers to as our kin, shines through. She explores topics such as the old-growth forests, the gift economy, what constitutes an honourable harvest, kinship, living in reciprocity, and the animacy that Indigenous languages extend to the greater world.

Kimmerer dares imagines a world in allegiance to gratitude and asks the question ‘what would happen if you believed the world loves you back?’

The book offers an opportunity to view our society and our connection to land and other beings from a new perspective. It is an absolute joy to read for those of us who are plant lovers, who delight in the beauty of the natural world, and those in need of hope.

Even a wounded world is feeding us. Even a wounded world holds us, giving us moments of wonder and joy. I choose joy over despair. Not because I have my head in the sand, but because joy is what the earth gives me daily and I must return the gift.

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