The puma years A memoir

Laura Coleman

Book - 2021

Presents the story of the author's journey in the Amazon jungle, where she fell in love with a magnificent cat who changed her life.

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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 333.954/Coleman Checked In
Travel writing
New York : Little A [2021]
Main Author
Laura Coleman (author)
First edition
Physical Description
290 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (chiefly color), map ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

This memoir begins in 2007 as Coleman, a timid, lost 24-year-old, somehow finds herself signed up for 30 days of volunteer work at a trafficked-animal rescue camp in Bolivia. Readers will be hooked by Coleman's compelling storytelling right from the opening pages as she describes her shell-shocked first days, completely out of her element. She creates wonderfully descriptive profiles of her companions, both human and animal, and tells hair-raising tales of jungle life. The real story is her relationship with her first assignment, a puma named Wayra. There are poignant breakthroughs, unsettling setbacks, terrifying dangers, narrow escapes, heartbreaking separations and reunions, and hookups and relationships, all channeled through Coleman's honest, wry, self-effacing, and always entertaining narrative. It's wrenching when Coleman finally leaves, having extended her stay by two years, thin, bald, ill with parasites, and emotionally wrecked from dealing with the never-ending challenges of saving animals from encroaching civilization. Coleman then reveals that in 2012 she created a British arts charity dedicated to environmental justice, One Network for Conservation and the Arts, and that she still visits Wayra almost every year. This is an amazing tale, one that readers will remember.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

Coleman's adrenaline rush--inducing debut transports readers along on her 2007 adventure to the Amazon jungle of Bolivia, where a backpacking trip at age 24 "meant to give perspective" led to volunteering at a wildlife sanctuary. There, she cared for pumas, jaguars, and ocelots rescued from the illegal pet trade. Coleman writes of feeling like a "scared little kid" upon arriving at the camp with "huts and dilapidated buildings" without electricity or hot water and "what is less toilet, more infinity hole." She was assigned to take care of one particularly grumbly puma named Wayra, who was housed in a cage in the forest and seemed just as terrified as her of getting too close. Gradually Coleman gained Wayra's trust, and their relationship "opened a window and pulled me through." Upon returning to her home in England, Coleman founded an arts charity in 2012 "dedicated to environmental justice," and she has occasionally gone back to the Bolivian sanctuary. Set against a backdrop of the constant threat to a jungle vulnerable to forest fires, flooding, and deforestation, Coleman's purpose-finding journey also offers a call to action for addressing the heartbreaking circumstances of wild animals in peril. Conservation-minded readers will want to take a look. Agent: Samar Hammam, Rocking Chair Books (June)

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