Acclaimed author brings her personal story to local book signing

The beloved author of “Refuge” returns with a work that explodes, startles, illuminates, and celebrates, according to Back of Beyond Bookstore owner, Andy Nettell. Terry Tempest Williams will be available for discussion and book signing at Back of Beyond Books, 83 N. Main Street, on Friday, June 15 at 6 p.m.

According to a statement from the bookstore website, Terry Tempest Williams’ mother told her, “I am leaving you all my journals, but you must promise me you won’t look at them until after I’m gone.” Readers of Williams’ iconic and unconventional memoir, “Refuge,” well remember that mother. She was one of a large Mormon clan in northern Utah who developed cancer as a result of the nuclear testing in nearby Nevada.

It was a shock to Williams to discover that her mother had kept journals. But not as much of a shock as what she found when the time came to read them.

“They were exactly where she said they would be: three shelves of beautiful cloth-bound books… I opened the first journal. It was empty. I opened the second journal. It was empty,” said Williams. “I opened the third. It too was empty… shelf after shelf after shelf, all of my mother’s journals were blank.”

What did Williams’ mother mean by that? In 54 chapters that “unfold like a series of yoga poses, each with its own logic and beauty,” Williams creates a lyrical and caring meditation of the mystery of her mother’s journals, said Nettell. “When Women Were Birds” is a kaleidoscope that keeps turning around the question “What does it mean to have a voice?”