Diary of a Young Naturalist

hardcover, 224 pages

Published June 8, 2021 by Milkweed Editions.


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5 stars (2 reviews)

'This diary chronicles the turning of my world, from spring to winter, at home, in the wild, in my head.'

Evocative, raw and lyrical, this startling debut explores the natural world through the eyes of Dara McAnulty, an autistic teenager coping with the uprooting of home, school, and his mental health, while pursuing his life as a conservationist and environmental activist.

Shifting from intense darkness to light, recalling his sensory encounters in the wild - with blackbirds, whooper swans, red kites, hen harriers, frogs, dandelions, Irish hares and more - McAnulty reveals worlds we have neglected to see, in a stunning world of nature writing that is a future classic.

Diary of a Young Naturalist is a powerful and scintillating portrayal of the beauty of the natural world, as it shines a light on autism and of overcoming severe anxiety. It is a story of the binding love of family …

2 editions

A Personal Universal Memoir

4 stars

Dara McAnulty presents many faces in a hopeful memoir: a teenager, a complex and astute nature enthusiast, a sensitive autistic, a member of a loving Northern Irish family, an environmental activist and an eloquent writer. None of these tells the whole story but all are relevant in this diary of one year in his life.

The writing is at its best when it is poetically focussed on nature, particularly birds. In these moments it is like reading JA Baker, putting across the beauty of nature through perfectly chosen words and descriptions of moments. The depictions of his autism and his family are also wonderfully revealing and carefully considered. The moments of activism (and occasional linked anger) are the only ones that seem to lose the run of the book and become too polarised. But the diary is a marvel and a fascinating insight into a great mind and a section …


5 stars

Diary of a year in the life of a Northern Irish teenager, describing his (and his family's) close connection with the natural world, his keen observations, and their various expeditions, primarily in Fermanagh and County Down, interwoven with stories from Irish history and mythology. Also talks about his internal experience of autism in a remarkably evocative way. Highly recommended.