Grace Olmstead grew up in the rural Idaho farm country, but moved away for college and to pursue her career. She has never moved back. But in the years since she left her hometown, she has realized that she is not the only one. There is a national trend of young folks leaving small towns and rural communities in order to seek better opportunities elsewhere.
In Uprooted: Recovering the Legacy of the Places We’ve Left Behind (Sentinel, 2021) Olmstead uses her training as a journalist to figure out why. Yet she also leans on her experience growing up on the land to share the story in the form of a memoir. Along the way, she tells stories from her own family and the families of those still working the land in her Idaho community. What she discovers is disheartening, but not surprising. Younger generations are leaving rural life, because there roots do not go deep enough to keep them. The farming industry, which use to be the backbone of American life has drastically changed. Fewer and fewer farms are surviving and the ones that do have no prospect of lasting past the current farmer after he or she retires.
What has been seen as “chasing your dreams” or moving on to bigger and better things, has hollowed out the soul of rural American life and threatens the livelihoods of farmers nationwide. Uprooted is a fascinating read. For those who have a connection to rural life, this book hits close to home. For those that live in a more urban context, it can serve as an eye opener. I highly recommend it.
Editor’s Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review of the book.