So I finally got around to writing another blog posting for a book I read not too long ago. I wrote it originally for my library’s blog – because it’s a good book and it hasn’t been checked out very much. I’m posting the review here first – it won’t show up on Pima County Public Library’s blog until late September.
When I lived in Northern California, a friend and I visited another friend who lived in Humboldt County. I remember being warned to look up into the trees before even thinking about smoking outdoors. At that time, the local law enforcement would wait for unsuspecting college kids to light up in the woods and then rappel down from trees to bust them – or so the story went. The other thing I remember about that trip was seeing the absolutely wonderfully crazy Kinetic Grand Championship – formerly known as the Kinetic Sculpture Race. Imagine two the five people racing in a bike sculpture over forty miles that also needs to be able to move through sand and float on water. For these reasons and more, when I saw Humboldt: Life on America’s Marijuana Frontier by Emily Brady I knew I wanted to read it.
The book centers on four different people: Mare – an older hippie, Crockett – a younger grower, Emma – a student who grew up in Humboldt, and Bob – a deputy sheriff who patrols all of the southern part of the county (usually by himself). Mare is interested in growing marijuana for medicinal use, Crockett wants to make as much money before cannabis is legalized in the state and the black market is killed. Emma is trying to understand why so many of the young people she grew up with have died. And Bob realized a long time ago that the country’s War on Drugs was a complete waste of time and money. Each person’s stories are interspersed with the others to tell the larger story of what life is like for those who live in Humboldt. Brady spent more than a year living in the county doing research and gaining trust from the inhabitants. This is a compelling book with memorable characters and stories.