All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki
(Penguin, 2004, 432 pages)
Ruth Ozeki’s newest book, A Tale for the Time Being, has been everywhere lately. I was intrigued but thought I’d pick up one of her older titles first. All Over Creation sounded interesting, especially given my love for all types of food-related reading.
Yumi Fuller grew up in Liberty Falls, Idaho and ran away as a young teenager. Her father, Lloyd, was an All-American potato farmer who met and married her mother, Momoko, after serving overseas. Momoko took it upon herself to tend a small garden of various fruits and vegetables and that (specifically harvesting and disseminating the seeds) became the Fullers’ primary focus later on in life. After Lloyd’s health took a turn for the worse Cass, Yumi’s former childhood best friend who has become the Fullers’ pseudo-caretaker, reaches out to her and suggests she come home to say her last goodbyes. When Yumi returns home with three kids in tow, all from different fathers, it turns out that while her father’s health is deteriorating he has an incredible will to live.
There’s inevitable tension between Yumi and Lloyd since they haven’t spoken in decades. As this family “reunion” is underway a group of activists known as the Seeds of Resistance find their way to the Fuller farm thanks to the newsletters Lloyd sends out regarding the Fuller seeds he and Momoko sell. The Seeds are against Agribusiness and are doing what they can to keep the earth from slowly dying thanks to pesticides and bioengineering. The Fuller’s allow the Seeds to stay on their land and help catalogue their seeds while also helping care for Lloyd. Cass and Yumi work at rekindling their friendship while Yumi tries to understand what her life has become.
This was a really enjoyable read. I really like Ozeki’s writing style and will certainly be checking out more of her work. The description on the back of the book didn’t wow me initially but I’m so glad I picked it up anyway. The characters are well fleshed out and you’re drawn into the story pretty quickly.