When I first started this book I found the description of the racial assault and bereavement of a close friend so heartbreaking and being in a very sensitive personal space at the time I had to put it down to digest and flow through me.
I remember Anita tweeting what was happening on the Transpennine train at the time and was horrified but also heartened by the support that was shown on social media and was so pleased when I heard that this journey and exploration was going to be made.
I Belong Here traces not just the exploration of the North of Britain, but the exploration of the meaning of belonging. Belonging in both space and time, how we coexist with others and nature and the importance of this coexistence. How people have come to different places through time, exploitation, migration, and colonialism.
The meaning of trauma was also explored and Anita looked at how a reconnection with nature is becoming a recognised way of healing different mental health conditions, of bolstering resilience and of relieving anxiety.
The mix of the personal and the historical, the meandering prose often following the meandering of water, the comparisons of words used in the description of the body and the description of landscape gives the book a tone different from the usual travel/nature books but that tone is important. That tone is one of self-discovery, self-knowledge, and a return to self in the face of othering.
A wonderful read and I’m really looking forward to the next two of the series