"The conversational prose is rich in detail about the wide variety of trees, flowers, fruits, and vegetables that blanket the area, and there are some wonderful stories about various wildlife that Homer has encountered. …A remembrance that effectively captures one woman's connection with nature in Central America."
Since relocating to Costa Rica from the U.S. three decades ago, Sandra Shaw Homer has seen her life turned upside down. She eventually divorces her alcoholic husband – who later takes his own life – and struggles to come to terms with being a survivor of depression, physical ills, and the painful memories of being sexually abused by her father. But the healing powers of Nature take hold – both in the abundant beauty of her tropical home and in the biodiversity of her own back yard, as she learns from Evelio, who helped build her house. Sandra’s beautiful memoir, Evelio’s Garden, tells an encouraging story – for each of us – and for the environment.
“My story shows how nature has amazing, curative powers – and how we must protect it,” says Homer.
In the enchanting world of the Costa Rican highlands, the author’s memories unfold, as she traces the seasons and closely observes the natural riches around her. But Evelio, who helped build her house, interrupts with an idea to plant an organic garden on their property.
Over the course of a challenging year full of unpredictable weather, wild animals, and toxic chemicals, their friendship grows as Evelio teaches her about the rural sustainability of Costa Rica in decades past.
Pulling her into the daily ups and downs of his project, he creates an often funny, always frustrating, and ultimately rewarding counterpoint to her own work, such that the two intertwine on the page...and lead her to confront a difficult past and open up to profound personal change.
Evelio's Garden is a lyrical meditation on cultural values, friendship, aging, loss, and, ultimately, the healing power of the natural world.
"Moving to another country presents many challenges. The obstacles of a new language, navigating new customs, and attempts at new friendships, can be daunting at best. But those who meet these challenges with open hearts and minds – those with the desire and ability to assimilate – gain riches unknown to many of us. In Evelio’s Garden, Ms. Homer leads us through her own personal journey of assimilation and self-discovery. Set in the backdrop of northwestern Costa Rica, her story weaves multiple themes in language as rich as the extraordinary tropical landscape. The story of Evelio’s attempts at organic gardening is touching, sometimes frustrating, often funny. The story of the effects of global warming on this small patch of Costa Rica provides glimpses of the planet’s future. Finally, Ms. Homer’s personal story, told with humility as she confronts her own past and creates a new life, is enlightening. As her life evolves, so her sensitivity to the world around her grows. She demonstrates for us the art of assimilation and, in the process, she shares the beauty of change and full acceptance of her place in an extraordinary world. Decidedly, a worthy read for anyone." D.J. (Amazon)
"Evelio's Garden: Memoir of a Naturalist in Costa Rica is an interesting glimpse into the life of author Sandra Shaw Homer as she details her life experiences as a Costa Rica transplant. The title refers to her hired hand, Evelio, who decides that he wants to have an organic garden. Much of the memoir details his attempts to achieve this despite many obstacles. The author offers assistance as well as monetary aid, and some of the stories are entertaining and comical as their ideas clash. The memoir also details difficulties in the author's life as well including the dissolving of a marriage and all of the angst that goes with living with an alcoholic spouse. Other impacts included family secrets and other traumatic events that added to the depth of this book."
"The descriptions of the land of Costa Rica, the traditions, and the heart of the people that live there were very well written and endearing. I enjoyed the book and was grateful to have received a free e-book for an honest review. While I enjoyed the book I do not think I would be enticed to live in Costa Rica after finding out how many bugs reside there. Thanks to the author for the journey to a different place during this Covid - 19 pandemic. It was a nice armchair trip."
"Sandra Shaw Homer is a profoundly gifted writer. Her prose is lyrical, evocative and at times borders on poetic. Her account of the ups and mainly downs of a year’s project with an organic vegetable garden created by her Costa Rican worker is seamlessly intertwined with recollections from her past. The descriptions of her long residence in rural Costa Rica bring to life the incredible natural beauty around her and the wildlife she sees and hears on a daily basis. I highly recommend this book."