I must be in a memoir and memoir-style mood.
After reading the fictionalized memoir of Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, I read a very real memoir by a good friend who lost her 12-year old son Jack in a freak accident.
Anna is the writer behind An Inch of Gray who wrote about life and refurbishing old furniture until the day her son was swept down a raging river and her world changed.
First I need to say that this is NOT a grief book, although I was afraid to start reading it when it arrived.
I felt a mixture of fear and guilt as it sat next to my bed waiting to be opened. The evening news and Law & Order: SVU trigger my anxiety about losing my boys so I had stopped watching them. I couldn’t imagine voluntarily reading about a little boy who drowned and how is mother had to pick up the pieces after that.
On the other hand, I had two happy, healthy little boys. Anna doesn’t have any little boys anymore. Who was I to not read her book because I was afraid? Plus she is my friend.
Tenuously, I opened the book.
Admittedly I have a hard time reading some of Anna’s blog posts about Jack, but I had no problem reading her book. While it was about him in some respect, it was also about what happens to a mom…and a family…when a piece is suddenly missing. While it is sad, it was not hopeless.
Anna is extremely honest and it is refreshing. She writes about things you would expect (not feeling like living without Jack being alive), but she also brings up things no one else talks about (like feeling out of place at church). She questions her relationship with God, but not in the way you would expect.
This book is extremely hopeful, if a book about losing a child can be hopeful. I think it’s Anna’s wit and sense of honesty about her life–the way it was, the way it is, and the way it will be.
I think I expected chapter after chapter of “now it’s winter and it sucks. now it’s Christmas and it sucks.” I couldn’t imagine a book about the death of a child being anything but, well, depressing. But Rare Bird is not that at all.
While there are stories of the pain of doing things as a family of three that had always been done as a family of four, Anna wove her own personal journey into it.
The book is not about Jack’s death as much as it is about Anna’s journey through it. It’s about the struggles, but also about the realizations, epiphanies, and opportunities for hope in something that is terribly messed up. While Anna holds tightly to her faith in God, it’s not necessarily a Christian book either.
I believe her feelings are universal to any mother experiencing the loss of a child.
This is not a sponsored post. I received and advance copy of Rare Bird for review and I am happily and voluntarily participating in this blog tour.