In the closing pages of her memoir, Move Like Water, scientist and sailor Hannah Stowe explains: "My aim with this book was to give you an ocean to hold in your hands, no matter how far from the waters you find yourself." Stowe presents a hybrid text--part memoir and part ecological treatise, perfect for fans of Annie Dillard or Elisabeth Tova Bailey. Each chapter is named for a creature of or dependent upon the sea and is accompanied by the author's evocative illustrations. In a chapter called "Human," Stowe describes a disastrous surfing outing that resulted in a significant back injury. Hampered by chronic pain, Stowe was forced to learn a new kind of resilience and, after months of struggle and recovery, she was able to return to sailing, this time on a boat of her own, which she named Brave.
The opening essay, "Fire Crow," focuses on her coastal upbringing in Pembrokeshire. Stowe was filled with longing: "I wanted to explore, to fill the edges of my mind with the edges of the world, to come back with a hundred answers and a thousand more questions." In "Sperm Whale," she highlights the matriarchal society of those majestic creatures, while tracing her own powerful matrilineage. Though there are some inconsistencies, Stowe is at her descriptive best when sharing her deep knowledge of and passion for the ocean, inspiring her readers to remember that the oceans "belong to all of us, and so does the care they require." --Sara Beth West, freelance reviewer and librarian