Snowflake Arizona, the Environmental Illness (EI) community in the White Mountains of Arizona, has been the subject of several books and documentaries that are bringing environmental illness more into the public awareness. Although many illnesses still elude diagnosis under that banner, the two that are rapidly growing in public awareness are Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and Electro-Hypersenstivity (EHS), often simply called Electrosensitivity (ES)
Here at EMF Experts, Chris and I have been in the long process of developing a zero-EMF retreat in the preserve area of the White Mountains, and for quite awhile now, we’ve been doing it the “official” way, which has included many unexpected mental athletics such as jumping the legal hurdles of inaccurately recorded property deeds from bygone mining and ranching days in the old wild west (and a few deeds that were staked in poker games played in the main frontier town named after a winning hand – Show Low ). Add to that, running the the usual gauntlet of government documentation and applications regarding the use of state and federal land, dodging today’s ever-new antennae and tower installations, untangling county zoning red tape, and decoding non-EMF-minded building codes.
So, when the new book, Snowflake AZ by award winning British author, Marcus Sedgwick, arrived from Amazon, we immediately cleared our schedules for a nice long uninterrupted reading-binge wondering what we could learn about simplifying.
Markedly unlike our community, Rancho Quieto, which is imperceptibly progressing at glacial speed, the Snowflake EI Community, sometimes called the Canaries Community (referring to the canaries that were used in the coalmines to signal dangerous breathing conditions), sprung up organically, unorganized and unofficial, prompted simply by the life or death urgency for safe housing, and residents have each bought their own forty or twenty acre parcel and built their own chemically-free and EMF-free homes. This socially active community located outside the town of Snowflake Arizona has been growing rapidly in recent years, attracting like-minded neighbors who purchase their own large acreages, or come to try living in one of the four state-funded rental houses in an effort to restore their health in the clean 5,500 feet elevation mountain air.
The life threatening need to live in a chemical free or electropollution free environment are concepts regular people have a hard time grasping if they are not personally directly affected by our chemical-laden, electrosmog inundated world.
This was the setting for, Snowflake Arizona, a timely, contemporary novel challenging ideas around health – our own and our planet’s – and the stigma that persists around unexplained illness, by internationally bestselling and award winning British novelist, Marcus Sedgwick, who is himself one of those afflicted with the new mysterious illness, which he dubs “Undiagnosis”.
In a story spanning seven years with triumphs and tragedies, the eighteen year old “hero”, Ash, comes to far flung Snowflake in northern Arizona to find his brother and in the process learns how to live as the world is pushed to a point of no return, taking lives and logic with it. This humane, emotional, and deeply thoughtful novel is about the resilience of the human spirit and the ingenuity of our drive to overcome, while offering us tender lessons of tribal love. Its many five-star reviewers have also applauded it for its accurate representation of what it is like living with a debilitating condition that people don’t understand, and doctors say is “all in your head”.
We applaud this book for its realistic portrayal of characters taken from real life, those who come from well educated backgrounds – university professors, engineers, scientists, as well as construction workers, IT workers, students etc. It reminds us that EI is not selective, it is an everyone-problem due to rising toxic electrosmog and chemicals. These real life people are not living in one room shacks wallpapered with tinfoil, or sleeping in metal garden sheds or the back of pick-up trucks because they are deadbeats or dropouts, but because they have lost great well paying jobs and productive lives due to sickness caused by our growing toxic environment.
Framed as a memoir narrated by a much older, wiser Ash, this raw, deeply philosophical tale leaves readers with a timely, sobering message about how humankind’s treatment of the environment impacts the environment’s treatment of humankind.”Publishers Weekly
The story-line has all the emotional hook-ins and expert foreshadowing of an unforgettable adventure story as the reader is taken on an eye-opening, heart rendering escapade learning about environmental illness right alongside our nice-kid main character, Ash, through trials, tragedies and triumphs that are real-life situations in a real-world place. This “real-life-ness” is what makes it both a entertaining and an enlightening book to give as a gift for anyone with someone in their family with an unexplained illness.
At the same time, for those well educated about MCS or EHS, or those struggling with it, this book is full of supportive philosophical insights, and dramatic scientific revelations into the mechanics of illness. Including some real surprises like the the part of our human journey that is played by the altruistic gene and the selfish gene, bacteria that could save the world from the impending environmental apocalypse, and the radical and rude societal awakening to the fact that we are all sick without even knowing it.
Marcus promises to respond to emails from all readers who are polite. His next project? He’s investigating the connection between mystery illnesses and creativity.