The Deer Camp: A Memoir of a Father, a Family, and the Land that Healed Them
For readers of The Stranger in the Woods and H Is for Hawk, a beautifully written and emotionally rewarding memoir about a father, his three sons, and a scrappy 100-acre piece of land in rural Michigan.
Some families have to dig hard to find the love that holds them together. Some have to grow it out of the ground.
Bruce Kuipers was good at hunting, fishing, and working, but not at much else that makes a real father or husband. Conflicted, angry, and a serial cheater, he destroyed his relationship with his wife, Nancy, and alienated his three sons-journalist Dean, woodsman Brett, and troubled yet brilliant fisherman Joe. He distrusted people and clung to rural America as a place to hide.
So when Bruce purchased a 100-acre hunting property as a way to reconnect with his sons, they resisted. The land was the perfect bait, but none of them knew how to be together as a family. Conflicts arose over whether the land-an old farm that had been degraded and reduced to a few stands of pine and blowing sand-should be left alone or be actively restored. After a decade-long impasse, Bruce acquiesced, and his sons proceeded with their restoration plan. What happened next was a miracle of nature.
Dean Kuipers weaves a beautiful and surprising story about the restorative power of land and of his own family, which so desperately needed healing. Heartwarming and profound, The Deer Camp is the perfect story of fathers, sons, and the beauty and magic of the natural world.
Praise for The Deer Camp: A Memoir of a Father, a Family, and the Land that Healed Them
"What makes The Deer Camp so memorable and engrossing is the wider environmental frame by which the author asks us to think about relationships. What brings the Kuiperses together, quite literally, is the acreage they return to year after year — through which they engage with one another and the ground . . . The Deer Camp is a captivating exploration of what one can learn from the natural world, and our dependence on this knowledge for our own well-being." - Los Angeles Review of Books
"A soulful, elegantly written memoir of family strife and reconciliation." - Detroit News
“A frank, personal, and sometimes-painful account of Kuiper's fractured family . . . Lushly detailed and full of eco-devotion, this candid narrative has much to say about human beings bearing burdens, coping, and aiding one another.” —Kirkus Reviews
"Honest and breathtakingly poetic." - Idaho Press Tribune
“Kuipers's gratifying narrative endearingly explores father-son relationships as well as the transformational power of nature.” —Publishers Weekly
"A fascinating blend of the ecology of place and how one family, passionately devoted to nature but dysfunctional as human beings, came to a level of peace and maturity through their periodic trips to their deer camp in Western Michigan." - WSJM Radio
"[A] wonderful book . . . universal relateability is what makes reading [The Deer Camp] so fulfilling." - The Missoulian
“This is a resplendent celebration of childhood, an elegy for broken fathers, and a communion with immensities. Kuipers maps how a shattered family can wade into wilderness and be bound back together by water and sky. Reading this is like hearing animal songs at night. You can feel the pines in these pages, and know that a tree is growing where this book once stood.” —Benjamin Busch, author of DUST TO DUST
“Kuipers has an extraordinary ear. With great acuity and insight he hears and interprets the voices of human family and ecological community. The forest and its people comes alive in his words. In beautiful prose, he uncovers and honors both the brokenness and the joy of our relationships with each other and the land.” —David George Haskell, author of Burroughs Medalist THE SONG OF TREES and Pulitzer finalist THE FOREST UNSEEN
“The Deer Camp is an astonishing, impossible-to-put-down memoir that engages our largest conflicts-generational, psychological, global-with a rarified combination of rigor, grace, and levity. One of the most necessary books I've read in years.” —Chris Dombrowski, author of BODY OF WATER
“In this poignant, honest memoir, Dean Kuipers guides readers through forests that feel both familiar and wild, in search of a family and a father he'd never known. The Deer Camp deftly navigates the deep and often complicated relationships between who we are and the places we love.” —Caroline Van Hemert, author of THE SUN IS A COMPASS
“Wise, beautiful, honest writing about a landscape I love. - Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of MOTHERS TELL YOUR DAUGHTERS