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Publisher's Summary

Set on a rugged coastal homestead during the 1970s, This Life Is in Your Hands introduces a superb young writer driven by the need to uncover the truth of a childhood tragedy and connect anew with the beauty and vitality of the back-to-the-land ideal that shaped her early years.

In the fall of 1968, Melissa Coleman's parents, Eliot and Sue - a handsome, idealistic young couple from well-to-do families - pack a few essentials into their VW truck and abandon the complications of modern reality to carve a farm from the woods. They move to a remote peninsula on the coast of Maine and become disciples of Helen and Scott Nearing, authors of the homesteading bible Living the Good Life. On 60 acres of sandy, intractable land, Eliot and Sue begin to forge a new existence, subsisting on the crops they grow and building a home with their own hands.

While they establish a happy family and achieve their visionary goals, the pursuit of a purer, simpler life comes at a price. Winters are long and lean, summers frenetic with the work of the harvest, and the distraction of the many young farm apprentices threatens the Colemans' marriage. Then, one summer day when Melissa is seven, her three-year-old sister, Heidi, wanders off and drowns in the pond where she liked to play. In the wake of the accident, ideals give way to human frailty, divorce, and a mother's breakdown - and ultimately young Melissa is abandoned to the care of neighbors.

What really happened, and who, if anyone, is to blame? This Life Is in Your Hands is the search to understand a complicated past; a true story, both tragic and redemptive, it tells of the quest to make a good life, the role of fate, and the power of forgiveness.

©2011 Melissa Coleman (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall

Not as advertised

This reads more like a documentary on organic farming, narrated by a child, and was nowhere near as interesting as the publisher's description. The details drone on and on, without nuance or layers of perception, feelings, character development, and the critical event takes place only at the end of the book. A "Family Undone"? Sounded like things barely registered on the characters' emotional Richter scale. If I could give this zero stars I would.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Anne
  • LAKEVILLE, CT, United States
  • 04-30-11

The worst reader ever

Normally I like to hear an author read a book if they can speak clearly -- this woman has a voice which is both squeaky and scratchy at the same time. Plus she sounds like a little girl reading words which are too big for her -- It is excruciating listening. I am going to forfeit the 21 dollars I just spent and get it from the library to read because it might be a good book I couldn't get past the first 20 minutes.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Kelley
  • Albemarle, NC, United States
  • 04-26-12

Heartbreaking but courageous story

If you could sum up This Life Is in Your Hands in three words, what would they be?

family, honest, heartbreaking

What was one of the most memorable moments of This Life Is in Your Hands?

The visions painted of children playing carefree on summer days in rugged Maine.

What about Melissa Coleman’s performance did you like?

It's her story... she lived it, earned the right to write about it, and earned the right to narrate it for us. I can't even imagine the feelings she had while not only writing the book, but then also recording the audio version. I can only hope that she found some peace within the process. To hear it told by anyone else would have felt "false".

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It did make me cry! Not so much the actual story of when the inevitable event happened, but more about how each family member dealt with it afterwards.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
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The author's voice gently tells a difficult story.

Some of this book is hard to hea as a mother but the story is woven extremely well.

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Why do authors have to read their own books?

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would only recommend that someone read this book, not listen.

How could the performance have been better?

Is it just plain arrogance? Is it a control thing? Why, oh why do authors insist on reading their own books? This book could have been fantastic, with its gorgeous prose and characters who came alive. But the author deciding to reading the book herself was a horrible mistake. The phrasing is off, the author's voice gets gravelly, and it turns out just plain annoying.