Falling into Green by Cher Fischer
Release date: 2012 / 348 pages
Synopsis (from Amazon.com): As an ecopsychologist, Dr. Esmeralda Green is skilled at solving the mysteries of the mind, especially if they collide with the laws of nature. But when a body is found below the crumbling cliffs near her Los Angeles home, she is pulled back in time to a tragedy that defies all understanding… After Ez discovers a key piece of evidence, she is swept into a maze of corporate corruption and family secrets whose depths seem to have no bounds. As she finds herself venturing into ever more treacherous territory, her intuition and psychological skills can take her only so far… Both an eco-mystery and a love story, Cher Fischer’s captivating debut novel offers an intimate look at the myriad ways in which nature defines us.
Review: When Fischer’s publisher contacted me about reading an “eco-mystery,” I was intrigued. For years I have tried to walk a bit more lightly on the earth — by eating vegetarian, driving a hybrid (alas, still an SUV), buying organic produce and products not tested on animals, recycling, and trying to reduce my carbon footprint… So, when I read the author was a “ecopsychologist” and had just written her first novel, I was too curious to pass up the chance even though mystery is not a genre I am drawn to.
First, here is what I learned about ecopsychology: “…psychological theory that goes so far as to include nature in the development of the human psyche… ecopsychology stipulates that nature is inherent to the formation of an individual’s perception of the world, and his or her response to that world, whether it’s functional or dysfunctional… Our learned behavior in our home, the earth, has been for millennia one of abuse — and when we grow up, we abuse the earth or become victims of abuse (i.e., victims of carcinogens in our water, food, etc.), and we’re willing to accept it because that’s what we’ve been taught. If we want to survive — as individuals and as a species — we need to break that cycle of abuse toward nature.” (For more information, Fischer recommends Ecopsychology by Roszak, Gomes, and Kanner).
While Falling Into Green did not make me more likely to pick up another mystery (just not my genre!), it definitely inspired me to become even more intentional in my daily choices and decisions with regard to the environment. I was a receptive audience for the protagonist’s theories:
“… it’s been posited by many environmental scientists that climate change might be a kind of defense strategy — the way a fever is the human immune system’s response to combat the flu — the planet is trying to fend off a virus, or a dangerous intruder, such as our own species, with heat… the earth is a whole living being in itself.. and I have no problem envisioning her having an immune response to disease; everything else that lives does… the things we want from nature are so unnatural. We want clean drinking water, so we pup raw sewage into our lakes, rivers and oceans. We want more food, and bigger chickens and cows to eat, so we pump them up wit all sorts of chemicals and create antibiotic-resistant disease. We want to base the world’s economy on oil, so we pump it into the air and get climate change. We want… a miracle. Or we want some news agency, or goverment agency, or bureaucracy, to tell us everything’s going to be fine.”
But I was distracted by Fischer’s use of paragraphing (many one-sentence paragraphs); as an expository writing teacher, this is a personal pet peeve that might not bother most readers. I did love that the protagonist was a horse lover, but was confused by the terminology she used at times — for example, I was unclear why EZ used a harness and a shoe-pick rather than a halter and hoof pick. But, again, these are idiosyncrasies that would not bother most readers. I believe most mystery readers who are at least open to the concept (reality) of climate change would enjoy Fisher’s unique way of blending fiction and eco-psychology and I am grateful that I am now aware of this field as well!
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