Sunday, September 21, 2014

Rare Bird~ A memoir

Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love

"It's as if our brains are operating on two separate tracks. On is the here and now of living and loving. The second is what could or should have been, yet will not be. Most days I can keep the second track hidden. Other days I don't have a prayer." ~ Anna Donaldson, Rare Bird. 

This is one of those memoirs that pulls you in and holds you fast. 

This is a book about the death of a child. The grief of a family. And the Love that held them together. 
Through this memoir, Anna gives us little pieces of herself and her son. She shares her Jack with us, and lets us love him through her words. 

I have a 12 year old in my family, so much like Jack. 
He lives in a cul-de-sac neighborhood, where no deadly threats should ever lurk. 
His friends are two houses down, but his sister is really his best buddy. 
He and his sister voluntarily share a room, and apparently their nighttime hijinks can keep the whole house awake! 
He attends a private Catholic school, and he reads voraciously. 
He can carry on a conversation that is engaging, funny, and thoughtful. 

While I was reading, somebody noticed the beautiful book cover. It's two children, clearly vibrantly alive, flinging their arms up to embrace a pair of soaring birds. "What's that about?" they asked. "Is it good?" And I replied "Yes. It is good." 
And then I quickly explained what I meant. 
"Good" seems like the cruelest word possible to use about a book like this. 
Yet somehow, I think the very act of telling Jack's story is an intrinsically good thing. 
Rare Bird bares a mother's heart and shares a child who was gone from earth too soon. 

And this memoir will meet many readers in their own time of loss. 
Anna is clearly writing her own story, and she never tries to speak on "grief in general." That's what makes her book so powerful. She doesn't outline 12 steps of mourning, she just tells us honestly how she felt. And as she tells us, we recognize the truth.

That's why I want to give this book to two family members at least. In my family, we're missing a Mom/Grandmother/Auntie. And I think we would cling to portions of Rare Bird. At one point Anna says, "But in my grief everything seems meaningless if it doesn't deal with life and death and the promise of heaven." That's a statement that we made, too. 

So thank you Random House for my review copy. I too suggest that almost everybody read Rare Bird. 


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