I have to admit that one of the best byproducts of sharing my life with parrots, and starting this blog, is the relationships I’ve been able to build with other bird lovers. One of the people who I’ve been particularly happy to “meet” is Rebecca O’Connor, who writes the Heckled by Parrots blog and is probably best known to parrot owners as the author of the acclaimed book: A Parrot for Life: Raising and Training the Perfect Parrot Companion.
So when Rebecca sent me a review copy of her new memoir LIFT, I was beyond thrilled. Not only do I love books about birds, but I love books.
It turns out that her African Grey parrot only makes very brief appearances in LIFT, but I barely minded. You see, LIFT is an incredibly moving memoir combining wonderful story-telling with strong, personal writing. In fact, it’s so personal that I find it really difficult to write about it in any detail – this isn’t the kind of book that is well served by a plot summary.
It’s about falconry, but it’s not about falconry. It’s also about being a woman, having faults, learning to forgive, learning to trust and coming to grips with one’s past.
The author’s relationship with the bird is an allegory, as Rebecca learns to fly her peregrine and learns to let go of old hurts and inner demons; but it’s not just an allegory. For those who want more than introspection, there’s enough detail and building anticipation to really get you interested in the world of falconry. There were a few falconry terms and concepts here and there that could have been explained more clearly to a non-falconer myself, but overall I definitely enjoyed this glimpse into a world I never gave much thought before.
(As a bird owner myself, the passages where O’Connor describes losing and subsequently chasing her falcon across the landscape was particularly unnerving.)
O’Connor does an excellent job building tension, releasing it just a little at a time as her story of working with her first peregrine unfolds … all the while you can almost imagine yourself as a falcon chasing a lure, following it as the author spins it away from you again and again, until its time to resolve the conflict and you can devour your prize.
This is a book that can appeal to men, women, falconers, bird lovers, anyone who’s ever struggled to overcome a difficult childhood, anyone who’s ever struggled to master a new challenge, and people who like being afforded a glimpse into someone else’s life and passion. I finished this book in two long sittings — reading late, late into the night, much to the detriment of my functioning the next day. It was just that hard to put down.
In other words, I enjoyed LIFT and think my readers may too. Get LIFT at Amazon