At Home on an Unruly Planet
from Henry Holt and Co.
One of Kirkus Reviews‘ 100 Best Nonfiction Books of the year
A 2023 Nautilus Book Award gold winner, Ecology and Environment
How do we find a sense of home and rootedness in a time of unprecedented upheaval? What happens when the seasons and rhythms in which we have built our lives go off-kilter?
In At Home on an Unruly Planet, Madeline Ostrander reflects on the climate crisis not as an abstract scientific or political problem but as a palpable force that is now affecting all of us at home. She offers vivid accounts of people fighting to protect places they love from increasingly dangerous circumstances. A firefighter works to rebuild her town after catastrophic Western wildfires. A Florida preservationist strives to protect one of North America’s most historic cities from rising seas. An urban farmer struggles to transform a California city plagued by fossil fuel disasters. An Alaskan community heads for higher ground as its land erodes.
Ostrander pairs deeply reported stories of hard-won optimism with lyrical essays on the strengths we need in an era of crisis. The book is required reading for anyone who wants to make a home in the twenty-first century.
Praise for At Home on an Unruly Planet
“A breath of fresh air in a world increasingly polluted by fossil fuels, a moment of calm in our most tempestuous existential crisis.”
“A hopeful, urgent, and universal message about our collective ability to face the climate changes we can no longer ignore.”
—Kirkus starred review
“Home may be the most pungent word in the language—and it’s no longer something any of us can take for granted, as a rapidly changing planet mocks our ideas of permanence and stability. As Madeline Ostrander makes clear in this marvelous book, resilience is a new watchword: we’re going to have to be light on our feet, even as we plant them in home ground!”
—Bill McKibben, New York Times bestselling author of The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon: A Graying American Looks Back at His Suburban Boyhood and Wonders What the Hell Happened
“A gripping and sometimes raw look at the personal costs of climate change, this book places our everyday experiences of home in the context of decades of environmental movements and eons of geologic time. Heartbreaking, but also funny and hopeful—you won’t want to put it down, and you won’t be able to forget it.”
—Annalee Newitz, author of Four Lost Cities: A Secret History of the Urban Age
“Ostrander visits with communities on the front lines of climate change and comes away with stories of hope, hardship, and resilience. Her book reminds us that home isn’t a place so much as a process: a radical act of continuous creation and renewal.”
—Jessica Bruder, New York Times bestselling author of Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century
“What’s encouraging is the strength, cleverness, and resiliency of the people who fill these pages, coping with new situations that won’t be going away. Above all, this is a hopeful book, and an encouragement to act.”
—Kim Stanley Robinson, New York Times bestselling author of The Ministry for the Future
“With deep, compassionate reporting and elegant prose … Ostrander finds creativity, vital hope, and a sense of home that outlasts any address.”
—Michelle Nijhuis, author of Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction
“In this beautiful, troubling, deeply compassionate book, Madeline Ostrander explores our home planet in this moment of climate-driven fire and flood, and asks one of the most important questions of our time.”
—Deborah Blum, Pulitzer-prize-winning author of The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz-Age New York
“As each new climate calamity obliterates, incinerates, or engulfs entire communities, we shudder to think our own could be next. Gently but purposefully, Ostrander guides us into places that have known this nightmare, not to shock but to show that the meaning of home is so powerful that people will make surprising, imaginative, even transcendent leaps to hold on to theirs. By her book’s end, you realize that maybe you could, too.”
—Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us and Countdown
“What does it mean to maintain a sense of place in an age of climate change? In At Home on an Unruly Planet, Madeline Ostrander explores this question with searching intelligence and uncommon empathy.”
—Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer-prize-winning author of Under a White Sky: The Nature of the Future
“Ostrander exposes readers to the serious impacts of climate change through the eyes of ordinary Americans … a must-read.”
—Meg Lowman, author of The Arbornaut: A Life Discovering the Eighth Continent in the Trees Above Us