Reco – Surrender: The Call of the American West . Author: Joanna Pocock

Reviewed and recommended by Dawn Drayton, GBF Education Committee member


*Please note, this is not a book for children. Mature content and themes.

Picture of book:Surrender: the Call of the American West

Surrender: The Call of the American West is quite an arresting read. Joanna Pocock, a Canadian author from Ottawa currently living in London England, deeply feels the hurt that humans are doing to the earth. She has based her book on a series of journalistic essays in which she interviewed or experienced various environmental groups who are striving to do no harm to the earth. In fact, they are living lives that go back before our technological age living off the fruits of the earth while taking a lighter step on the planet.

Dealing with the death of her parents and favourite sister, she attempts to manage her grief, menopause and midlife. “I had the idea that we could pare away the superfluities of life only allowing ourselves the necessities.” Living a Spartan lifestyle in Missoula, Montana, Joanna begins her new life bemoaning the increasing wild fires, the disappearance of the glaciers, land treaties with Indigenous peoples and the devastation brought on by mining. After attending an anti-trapping meeting, she decides to learn more by taking a free wolf trapping course, revealing the horrors of trapping “prey.”

In her pursuits she meets a transsexual nomad who is “rewilding” - sustaining her life by planting and reaping four native crops on public land. Through this person she meets an eco-sexual group who seemed Woodstock-like, doing drugs and engaging in free sex while also having sex with the earth - by rolling around in the mud.

Although many aspects of this book made me uncomfortable and were foreign to me, it did open my eyes to how much I appreciate the environment here in Georgian Bay. It made me realize that despite GBFs incredible projects and educational work, there is so much more we could be doing to stop our consumer lifestyle altogether and now I realize that there are people who actually do this.

A little about the reviewer

Dawn Drayton, pictured below at the cottage with her husband, has been an incredible volunteer for Georgian Bay Forever for years - including being an active member of the fundraising and education committees. We thank her so much for her passion. At GBF, we are always hoping to connect with passionate people. It can even start with a book and author recommendation. If you want to submit one, please contact the education committee for consideration. We are looking for books that tell stories and or provide information that will help to illuminate and engage our fellow Georgian Bayers on protecting the water. Email us with the subject line Book Club Reco at info@gbf.org.