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 mosaic of personal journeys and historical inquiry across a continent and time, Lauret Savoy explores how the country’s still unfolding history, and ideas of “race,” have marked the land, this society, and her. 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.
Attentive to the rhythms of language and landscapes, Lauret weaves together human stories of migration, silence, and displacement, as epic as the continent they survey, with uplifted mountains, braided streams, and eroded canyons. Trace delves through fragmented histories—natural, personal, cultural—to find shadowy outlines of other stories of place in America.
Winner of the American Book Award (from the Before Columbus Foundation)
Winner of the ASLE Environmental Creative Writing Award
Finalist for the PEN American Open Book Award
Shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing
Finalist for the Phillis Wheatley Book Award
Shortlisted for the Orion Book Award
“I have never read a more beautiful, smart, and vulnerable accounting of how we are shaped by memory in place.” – Terry Tempest Williams