My Memoir

Love and Loss Among the Monarchs of Mexico

Each year, millions of monarch butterflies migrate to a sacred mountain grove in Mexico, saturating the air with a heart-humming thrum. Before encountering this natural wonder in person, Ellen Sharp was an aspiring anthropologist, dutiful daughter, spurned wife, and an indifferent naturalist. Sharp falls madly in love, not only with the monarchs, but with their forest and the young Mexican man who takes her to see them. She and her guide plunge into an unlikely partnership to save themselves, his village, and the imperiled monarch migration. Finally, she’s found a life infused with passion and purpose. Then her conservation efforts slam into cultural differences and danger. Fragile Messengers explores the challenges of cross-cultural love, the limits of the healing power of nature, and the difficulty of doing the right thing. Part memoir, part nature-writing, this genre-defying debut examines why the struggle to preserve nature is neither safe nor simple.


Her fairy tale romance turned gothic novel, our protagonist feels hopelessly trapped in her tower in bucolic rural Mexico. Then a series of therapeutic ketamine journeys provide her with the symbolic resources to start planning her escape. 

From 2013-2021, I lived in a small village at the entry of a monarch butterfly sanctuary in rural Mexico and worked tirelessly to promote sustainable ecotourism and effective forest conservation. I became known as an expert on Mexico’s monarch migation. Click here for a selection of the pieces I participated in.