The University of Wisconsin Press

Memoir / Environment / Natural History / Wisconsin


This Tender Place
The Story of a Wetland Year
Laurie Lawlor

"Lawlor has a remarkably transparent style, the perfect vehicle for capturing the subtle beauty of the fen, a rare and precious form of wetland fed by underground springs . . . [the] book teems with hidden life and significant observations, as she reveals the beauty and inestimable value of an often-maligned but truly essential natural landscape."

After the deaths of her father and father-in-law, Laurie Lawlor discovers an unlikely place for healing and transformation in a wetland in southeastern Wisconsin–a landscape of abundant and sometimes inaccessible beauty that has often been ignored, misunderstood, and threatened by human destruction. In her personal wetland journey, she examines the sky, delves underwater, and peers between sedges in all seasons and all times of day. An engaging and deeply intimate record, This Tender Place is, at its heart, a story of refuge and renewal refracted through the lens of life within wetlands–among the most productive, yet most endangered, ecosystems in the world.

"This Tender Place parallels Lawlor's personal growth and spiritual regeneration with that of the wetland and challenges the reader to look twice at the natural resources that surround us yet are so often taken for granted."—Nature Conservancy magazine

"In the wetlands of southeast Wisconsin, Lawlor initiates a genuine relationship with the land. From spring peepers to sandhill cranes, there is an unyielding sense of her direct participation with nature, and through her encounters and descriptions one feels a new sense of belonging—a continuity with all life through time."—Nina Leopold Bradley

this is a photo of the author. Laurie Lawlor has light colored hair, and is wearing a dark blazer and turtleneck sweater. Laurie Lawlor is the author of thirty-three books for children and adults, among them Addie Across the Prairie and Window on the West: The Frontier Photography of William Henry Jackson. Her books have received accolades including the Carl Sandburg Award for Children's Literature, the Golden Kite Honor Book for Nonfiction award, and the American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults award. She teaches writing at Columbia College in Chicago.

There is a press kit with publicity information about this book. Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)


the cover of Lawlor's book is a beautiful photograph of a wetland area, looking down from a hillside

April 2007

LC: 2005005447 QH
190 pp.    6 x 9
20 b/w photos, 2 drawings

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Paper $19.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-21464-7
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The cloth edition, ISBN 978-0-299-21460-9, is out of print.

The Terrace Books logo is designed in the shape of a book with a Union chair in silhouette on the cover. The words Terrace Books, Madison, Wisconsin appear also.
Terrace Books is a trade imprint of the University of Wisconsin Press

" 'This is my first memoir. I was trained as a journalist, so I got a little nervous going this route,' Lawlor says of using herself as the 'anchor' of the book. 'But it did seem a natural way to tell three stories simultaneously, the land, the people and my own dealing with grief and reconciliation,' Lawlor found that 'getting to know a piece of land so well, and the animals and the plants, can be very cathartic.' "
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