I would be lying if I didn't say that I've had my share of sweaty palms about the reviews for LIFE ON THE ROCKS. This is a book about coral science, but also a deeply personal book. As I wrote this book, the world was hit by the Covid crisis, a new understanding of racial injustice, and within my home, my family was struggling with my daughter's mental health. Like a coral reef itself, the interconnections became harder and harder to tease apart. I wrote into all of that complexity, and I hoped that my readers would understand it. So far, I think it's working.
I can't tell you how amazing it is to see the gorgeous cover of LIFE ON THE ROCKS on the COVER OF BOOKLIST! The amazing **STARRED** review says: "[A]n excellent study of efforts to save the reefs…Solidly researched, sharply observed, and compassionately rendered, the parallel struggles in LIFE ON THE ROCKS make for science writing that is illuminating on several levels.”
Tim Flannery is a legend in conservation writing. He's won just about every award given out to authors in Australia. He reviewed LIFE ON THE ROCKS along with Charles Sheppard's new book, CORAL REEFS. I've had the pleasure of speaking to Charles a few times, and he's one of the great coral scientists around. So, this review in the New York Review of Books is and incredible honor.
Of the threats facing coral reefs, Flannery writes, "The cause of this disaster, and what can be done about it, is the focus of Juli Berwald’s splendid new book, Life on the Rocks. Berwald’s great strength lies in revealing a fast-moving, complex global catastrophe through easily understood case studies..."
He continues, "Life on the Rocks is far more than a paean to coral. Interwoven with Berwald’s research is an account of the mental health of her daughter, Isy. We meet Isy when she’s in eighth grade. She always had lots of friends, but halfway through the year she abruptly ditches them all, becomes reclusive, and begins washing her hands compulsively and receiving failing grades. She is, we later learn, falling victim to obsessive-compulsive disorder. The creeping horror any parent feels at such a transformation in a child is palpable in Berwald’s response. At first she feels helpless and blindsided, but then she starts to investigate possible causes, such as bacterial or viral infections that may be linked to OCD. Despite some short-term remissions, it is not until Isy tries long-term therapy at a residential mental health program that real progress is made. But success is always qualified. Berwald puts the experience to good purpose, astutely weaving together the story about uncertainty that surrounds both OCD and reef science, as well as the slow and uncertain nature of recovery."
And this wonderful review in the print version of Book Page really makes me feel like what I was trying to accomplish in the pages of LIFE ON THE ROCKS was successful.
Pub date is April 5, 2022!