All Over Creation
Ruth L. Ozeki

ISBN:  9780330490276
Publisher: Pan Macmillan R145.95
Exclusive Books: R110.00

 This is a rather difficult book to review and do it justice. It is about so much and has so many interwoven stories that all pull and tug against each other, and prop each other up, that to reduce the book to a summary of the events would be criminal.

 If I tell you it’s about genetic engineering of foodstuff, many readers would yawn and find another book to read. But it is.

Except it’s also about a whole lot more

 It is also about family and what makes a family; and what breaks one. It’s about life and death and propagation. It’s about faith and trust and forgiveness.

 It has a huge cast but all of them are essential and full characters and are necessary. The stories unfold in a completely believable way and are so clear that there is never any confusion.

 The main story is of the Fuller family, Lloyd, his Japanese wife Momoko and his run away and now adult daughter Yumi. Lloyd was a potato farmer but now sells seeds with his wife. Yumi ran away for home at 14 and only now, at 39, has returned to Idaho because her father is dying and her mother losing her mind. Yumi returns with her three children and a host of issues and a history which returns to bite everyone in the ass.

 Added to this family saga of death, dementia, anger, love and forgiveness are the band of political activists who join forces with Lloyd in an anti-genetically modified foodstuff movement.

 Throw in an abortion, a barren couple, a dodgy dude with mirror shades and a bitter and twisted small town sheriff and the result is a very well worth reading book.

 Here is the first paragraph of the book:

It starts with the earth. How can it not? Imagine the planet like a split peach, whose pit forms the core, whose flesh its mantle, and whose fuzzy skin its crust – no, that doesn’t do justice to the crust, which is, after all, where all of life takes place. The earth’s crust must be more like the rind of the orange, thicker and more durable, quote unlike the thin skin of a bruisable peach. Or is it? Funny, how you never think to wonder.

 And I loved this paragraph:

Every seed has a story, Geek says, encrypted in a narrative line that stretched back for thousands of years. And if you trace that story, travelling with that little seed backwards in time, you might find yourself tucked into an immigrant’s hatband or sewn into the hem of a young wife’s dress as she smuggles you from the old country into the New World. Or you might be clinging to the belly wool of a yak as you travel across the steppes of Mongolia. Or perhaps you were eaten by an albatross and pooped out on some rocky outcropping, where you and your offspring will put down roots to colonize that foreign shore. Seeds tell the story of migrations and drifts, so if you learn to read them, they are very much like book – with one big difference. …………………….. Book information is relevant only to humans……………….the information contained in a seed is a different story, entirely vital, pertaining to life itself.

 Genetically modified plants have a seed self destruct mechanism implanted so as to force the farmers to buy new seeds every year! Who knew!

 The characters in the book make seed bombs which they throw over the walls of government and business building and compounds so that indigenous plants will grow on the lawns; they plant trees on verges and in parks. That kind of terrorism I can live with.

 Very cool story and very important area for us all to inform ourselves of. It is happening and we don’t even know where.

A cracker of a book and well worth reading