When I first picked up Falling into Place, I thought it was a memoir. While it can read like one, it’s actually a collection of related essays. This collection focuses in equal parts on Reid’s personal life and her love of nature, weaving in narratives about a particular otter, or the story of passenger pigeons, or Reid’s conflicting feelings on Canada geese. In the acknowledgments section, Reid remarks “In their shapes and meanders, the personal essay and the long walk have much in common, most notably in their valuing of the journey over the destination.” This is a good encapsulation of Falling into Place, which reads like a unhurried wander through wilderness. Personally, I can often get distracted when books include long descriptions of scenery, but though Reid’s collection focuses on nature, it never seems excessively “flowery”. Each bird or tree has a story, a narrative intersecting with Reid’s own. Where Licking the Spoon uses food and The Body Geographic uses maps, Falling into Place uses nature as a theme to frame her own story.
I loved the languid, poetic pace of these essays. Because each essay can stand independently, there’s no rush to reach the end. Still, the essays match together well, and can easily be read back to back with no feeling of lurching into a different gear. They have a quiet flow to them, feeling like different dimensions of the same story. They vaguely remind me of Ivan Coyote, one of my favourite authors, with their celebration of the landscape and the deep roots of home in place.
Although nature is the main focus of these essays, Reid does not shy away from mentioning her wife or her sexuality. It is not a major part of the book, but I appreciate that it is addressed matter-of-factly, from her family’s reaction to her coming out, to her choice to get married (but not have a ceremony), to everyday life with her wife.
I found this to be a thought-provoking, but oddly soothing read. It will make you consider the huge impact human beings have had on other animals and wildlife throughout history, but the writing style is so smooth that it a pleasure to curl up and slowly read. If you are a nature lover, or a fan of memoirs and personal essays, Falling into Place should be on your list.