A Friend of the Earth Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of A Friend of the Earth

In the year 2025, with the Earth rendered chaotic by environmental degradation, former eco-terrorist Tyrone Tierwater tries to save some part of nature for the future. Ty lives on the Central California property of onetime pop star Maclovio Pulchris, who has gathered pairs of nearly extinct animals and keeps them on his property. Ty works as his zookeeper, working to keep the lions, zebras, tigers, and other now rare animals alive so that one day they can repopulate the earth.
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However, the planet is suffering from extreme weather caused by uncontrolled climate change. During a terrible storm that rages for weeks on end, Ty and Mac's other staff move several of the animals from cages into the basement of Mac's compound, where they'll be safe from the flooding.

Inside, Ty flashes back to the 1980s and 1990s, when he became an activist with the radical environmental group Earth Forever! He and Andrea, a beautiful activist he met after his first wife died, thought they could save the planet through radical activism. Along with Ty's young daughter, Sierra, Ty and Andrea protested logging operations and sabotaged equipment used by loggers and real estate developers.

Eventually, Ty was imprisoned for destroying tractors and other vehicles. His daughter continued her activism, becoming famous for her three years of "tree-sitting" in an old-growth redwood to prevent its removal by loggers. But she died in 2001 after falling from the tree, and Andrea split from Ty.

Back in 2025, the storm continues. Mac is convinced that the storm will pass, and that he can begin breeding his animals, but one of the lions escapes from the basement and kills Mac. Mac's family evicts Ty from the property, and he eventually reunites with Andrea. The two move into a remote cabin once used by Earth Forever! and hunker down to wait out the rest of their lives, assuming the world has basically ended.

Except that one day the storm passes, and Ty and Andrea see a young woman who looks strikingly like Sierra hiking on a nearby trail. They meet and introduce themselves, and the encounter provides Ty with a glimmer of hope for humanity.
Best part of story, including ending: The depiction of the Earth's post-climate-change meltdown is frightening, and perhaps more realistic since it is not the main point of the story -- the characters are. By putting such a huge disaster in the background, it forces us to think about it (and our choices here in real life) even more.

Best scene in story: Ty and his first wife are camping when she is stung by a bee, and neither of them knew at the time that she was allergic to bee stings. They're miles from anywhere and don't have the necessary medicine to save her, and she dies in moments. It's heartbreaking to see Ty as he picks up his wife, who's in anaphylactic shock, and carries her all the way down the mountain, in the middle of the night, to get her to a hospital, and when he realizes that it doesn't matter because it was too late to save her.

Opinion about the main character: Many people share Ty's political beliefs -- and in the world of the novel, he's right: the Earth is in serious danger of an environmental cataclysm, and it really does happen. But he's also an odious person, filled with rage and self-righteousness. Only at the very end does he appear to be, as he puts it himself, a human being.

The review of this Book prepared by Mason S. a Level 4 Yellow-Headed Blackbird scholar

Chapter Analysis of A Friend of the Earth

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Plot & Themes

Composition of Book planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzles/motives 20%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 50%Descript. of society, phenomena (tech), places 30% Tone of book    -   depressing/sad FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION?    -   science fiction story Explore/1st contact/ enviro story    -   Yes Explore:    -   preventing/surviving an ecological disaster Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   blue collar worker Age:    -   60's-90's


Terrain    -   Forests Earth setting:    -   near future (later in 21st century) Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   no torture/death scientific jargon? (SF only)    -   none/very little science jargon needed Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only How much dialogue?    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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T.C. Boyle Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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