Idea: The Will of Heaven is more than just the standard memoir. It is a double story, that of a woman's recovery from alcohol addiction and of her growing passion and interest in Kenyan elephants. The chapters fluctuate between these themes, and readers will wonder how the author has so seamlessly threaded the African stories together so well without being there --- presumably, newspaper articles, scientific journal articles, and other research methods.
Prose/Style: The prose is exemplary and one of the greatest strengths of this book. What shines through to readers and will stick with them is the passion behind the writing about the elephants.
Originality: This text is quite original, especially in the way it ties together the very diverse themes of alcoholism, trauma and grief, and orphaned elephants so well.
Character/Execution: Debbie's character is quite clear and memorable; she undergoes a huge transformation in her years-long attempts to reach her amazing goals. The elephant keepers and administrators in Africa are also quite clearly portrayed.
Date Submitted: October 06, 2020
"One of the best books about alcoholism of all time" -BookAuthority, The Will of Heaven chosen #8 on the list
"Debbie's deeply personal account of her addiction, recovery and building a new life dedicated to conservation would be compelling and deeply moving if told on its own, but combined with the insights and stories of the remarkable elephants that encouraged her recovery, her story is elevated to a truly inspiring memoir.
You are guaranteed to learn something about the world reading this book, and I think it will leave you feeling very hopeful. However desperate the challenges, together we can overcome adversity to secure a future for elephants, and for ourselves." -Dr. Lucy Bates, Research Fellow (primary focus on wild African elephants) University of Sussex
"I don't remember the last time a book made me cry. I don't remember the last time I read a memoir I couldn't put down. The Will of Heaven by Debbie Ethell, managed to do both. Her story of overcoming a debilitating addiction to alcohol and fulfilling a lifelong dream of working with wild elephants is nothing less than extraordinary." -Shannon Leonetti, Amazon and Goodreads professional reviewer (unpaid)
"I all-caps LOVE this book!" Zach Ellis, author of Being
Debbie Ethell has stories to tell. She has stories to tell about elephants, alcoholism and hope, and writes well about all three.
"Storytelling is a powerful teaching tool," she said. "I wrote my book to share my experiences of love for elephants and to raise awareness about elephants. But I also wanted to show readers what addiction looks like, to put a face on it, as it is never too late to change."
Ethell's book, "The Will of Heaven: An Inspiring True Story about Elephants, Alcoholism and Hope" is the true story of how she overcame debilitating addiction to become a conservation research scientist, fulfilling her lifelong dream of working with wild elephants...
The author of "The Will of Heaven", Debbie Ethell talked about how elephants saved her life and helped to keep her sober for 20 years. Debbie has a Book Event Tonight @ 7 @ Broadway Books, Portland. Click here for more information about Debbie.
Debbie Ethell is the Executive Director of the KOTA Foundation for Elephants and a conservation research scientist who has served as a consultant on the NhRP's elephant rights cases. Her memoir "The Will of Heaven" interweaves her personal story of recovery from alcoholism with her lifelong passion for helping and promoting a deeper understanding of elephants. Here, she talks with NhRP Communications Director Lauren Choplin about the resilience of elephants, the power of storytelling as a tool for self-reflection and animal advocacy, and more.