Praise for Rowing Forward, Looking Back

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Dr. Jack Pearce, North American Editor, Marine Pollution Bulletin

It [Rowing Forward, Looking Back] is probably the best written, best edited book of its kind. And that comparison includes the stuff from Bill Amos, the Teals et al!… Even Gunner Thorson…

Michael Lee, Cape Cod Voice

There is no drought when it comes to books written about Cape Cod. …What moves Macfarlane’s book to the head of the list is her ability to infuse personality with science and to demystify the complex biological processes that unfold in the marine environment….[The book] is not only an account of the evolution of shellfish propagation and the greater understanding of our marine environment. It is the story of the growth of a community as it enters the unchartered waters of unprecedented economic growth. And, surely of the greatest entertainment, it is the story of the growth and evolution of a woman who seemed born for her job, who performed it with that same sense of destiny.

Gef Flimlin, Book Review, National Shellfisheries Association Newsletter

The narrative is told in the voice of someone who obviously loves the place and wants it to be both a productive shellfish area and a great place to live….The light side of life and an appreciation of the beauty of nature is never far from the forefront. Much of the musings rise up from Sandy’s meditative rowing through the waters of the town. The book is well written in a very readable style with facts interspersed with humor of the local people who work on the water adding the occasional chuckle. It makes the reader … think about the parallels between Orleans and his own area. It is a subtle call to action to continue to do the right thing and protect the estuarine resources before they are wiped out by the people who moved there to enjoy them.

Susannah Graham Pye, The Cape Codder

So begins Macfarlane’s story, which chronicles her journey from a young, hopeful college graduate, to municipal biologist who had lived and worked through three decades of radical environmental, political and regulatory change….What began as a quest to understand what had happened to the quahog industry … blossomed into an understanding of the web … that connects people and place. … Macfarlane’s book is important. Macfarlane the storyteller brings the layperson to a deeper understanding of the forces that have changed the Cape.

Edward F. Maroney, The Barnstable Patriot

Sandy Macfarlane … uses a mighty big scoop in this combination of a professional memoir and a natural history of the town’s bays. What she fishes out of her life work constitutes a survey course in resources management, a sharp-edged sociological study of change in her community, and moments of grace experienced while gliding through her liquid domain. … We watch Macfarlane put her back into learning the techniques of raking for shellfish she can study. We sit with her as she rides out onto [the] beach to plow an area in which to grow clams and are stunned by her beautiful description of what she discovers. ‘About two feet underground, we did find a set of clams that had died…. [they] were all still oriented in the way that they would have been if alive. They looked like praying hands buried in the sand’.

Bob Hicks, Messing About in Boats

Sandy’s book is no tiresome rant from an ultra-green standing on the sidelines of some environmental disaster in the making, it’s a wonderfully written evocation of an environmental situation from someone right down in the mud of the bay, wrestling with the problem and what to do about it daily, someone who didn’t just point and shout, but worked at the task for a quarter century… She has just now retired… giving her time to write her book for all of us who value such seashore environments to learn from.

Marshall Pregnall, Estuarine Research Federation Newsletter

Sandy’s work and her book cover the range from basic to applied research, application of both knowledge and absence of knowledge in management decisions, the progressive scientific and public awareness of the consequences of coastal development and population growth, and the oft-surprising combinations of people who seek to restore and improve our coastal resources for the future.

John Leaning, Cape Cod Times

It is a tale of love and loss, determination and success, of anguish and failure. And it is all true. …Even the Chatham break couldn’t undo what man’s development, slowly but surely, was already doing to destroy the marine ecosystem. As the state’s first full time shellfish biologist hired by a town, and the first full-time conservation administrator, she has been at the leading edge of efforts to reverse long-time pollution problems that threaten both marine and salt water systems…

Ben Neal, Working Waterfront/Inter-Island News

She [Macfarlane] carefully weaves together her story and Cape Cod’s into a sometimes unraveling tapestry of environmental change, one which has not yet reached the end of the loom.

E. Stanley Goldman, Author

I expected to learn a lot from “Rowing Forward” – but did not expect especially to enjoy it. I enjoyed it hugely! Reads like a novel. Very well written and organized. Thanks very much for doing it.

June Fletcher, Author and founder of Friends of Meetinghouse Pond

Rowing Forward should be required reading for anyone living on the Cape.

Charles McOuat, letter to author

I loved your book, “Rowing Forward, Looking Back.” If you can get me to understand “eutrophication,” it is a compliment to your writing skills. You keep positive in conversational tone, blaming no single group for the problems. Certain sentences like “new selectmen found themselves tentatively holding the rudder and mainsheet and hoping a fresh breeze would get the boat moving.” That’s beautiful.