Book Review: Four Wings and a Prayer

Four Wings and a PrayerFour Wings and a Prayer: Caught in the Mystery of the Monarch Butterfly
by Sue Halpern

224 pages
Vintage, Reprint edition, 2002
List price: $15.00, Softcover

While usual reviews posted here are for recent releases, good books come out every year and past releases deserve to be spotlighted, especially when the topic is current. Such is the case with Four Wings and a Prayer.

Much media attention has been focused on the plight of the monarch butterfly and the threat to its epic migration journey each year. The monarch itself is not endangered, but due to loss of habitat, pesticide use, extreme weather events, and illegal logging, its migration may experience a change or disappear altogether unless something is done to correct these issues.

No other insect performs such a feat and Halpern’s book takes us to the places where it happens and shares an inside view of both the monarch’s world as well as those who study the phenomenon. Entomologists and scientists of all kinds have devoted years of their lives to these insects and it’s fascinating to gain insight to their methods and discoveries.

I devoured this book, but I have a passion for monarchs. Others who share that passion will no doubt enjoy Four Wings and a Prayer and the merely curious may come away with a new excitement for them. The monarch’s story is still being written and I want Sue Halpern to write it when the time comes that it can be shared with the rest of us. Her writing simply draws us in.

Sue Halpern is a writer, editor and teacher, living in Vermont with her husband, writer and activist, Bill McKibben. She has written for numerous magazines, including Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, Glamour, The New York Review of Books, Good Housekeeping, Mother Jones, and Conde Nast Traveler. She is the author of six books and is the human half of a dog therapy team.

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