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Can the land tell us what our ancestors cannot? Can silenced and excised accounts of all the humans who made this country what it is—black, native, white, brown, colonizers and colonized—be given voice in the ancient and modern upheavals of flint and fossil, flood and famine? Savoy, a geologist of mixed heritage, travels the country in this collection of interlinked essays to read the signs, both granite and archival, as she attempts to piece together the real America. Beautifully rendered, quietly urgent. -Kris' Top 10 Picks of 2015
Winner of the ASLE Creative Writing Award
Winner of the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation
Finalist for the PEN American Open Book Award
Finalist for the Phillis Wheatley Book Award
Shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing
Shortlisted for the Orion Book Award
"I stand in awe of Lauret Savoy's wisdom and compassionate intelligence. Trace
is a crucial book for our time, a bound sanity, not a forgiveness, but a reckoning." --Terry Tempest Williams
Sand and stone are Earth's fragmented memory. Each of us, too, is a landscape inscribed by memory and loss. One life-defining lesson Lauret Savoy learned as a young girl was this: the American land did not hate. As an educator and Earth historian, she has tracked the continent's past from the relics of deep time; but the paths of ancestors toward her--paths of free and enslaved Africans, colonists from Europe, and peoples indigenous to this land--lie largely eroded and lost.
In this provocative and powerful mosaic of personal journeys and historical inquiry across a continent and time, Savoy explores how the country's still unfolding history, and ideas of "race," have marked her and the land. From twisted terrain within the San Andreas Fault zone to a South Carolina plantation, from national parks to burial grounds, from "Indian Territory" and the U.S.-Mexico Border to the U.S. capital, Trace
grapples with a searing national history to reveal the often unvoiced presence of the past.
In distinctive and illuminating prose that is attentive to the rhythms of language and landscapes, she weaves together human stories of migration, silence, and displacement, as epic as the continent they survey, with uplifted mountains, braided streams, and eroded canyons.