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H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

I love all animals. I'm the one saving spiders in danger of drowning with a conditioner bottle as I'm taking a shower. I'm the one who was treated like a leper after loving-up on a bunch of starving, mangey dogs on the streets of the Dominican Republic. My husband always tells people that he is 99.9% certain that I will one day die by animal mauling.

But I HATE birds.

Their beady little eyes, their talons, their can-opener sharp beaks? NOT.HERE.FOR.IT. It also doesn't help that my father and stepmom have two asshole birds that routinely try to attack me (my husband had to physically SLAP one out of the air once as it came screeching through the air at us. And then that little fucker proceeded to puff up and charge us on the ground. My husband is upwards of 250 pounds. This bird can't weight any more than 6 ounces). But, as I'm a devoted member of my local indie's book group, I felt obligated to make my way through Helen Macdonald's tale of how she worked through the grieving of her father.

I'm glad I read it. I spent the entire time waiting for Macdonald's next sentence to say "and then Mabel pecked my eyeballs out", but I'm glad I read it. Although a little too flowery and overwrought at times for me, her writing was beautifully descriptive and powerful. I enjoyed witnessing the steps as Macdonald went from completely broken to recognizinsg that brokeness and taking action to heal herself. The genius in this book was in the way the reader got to witness her voice actually changing throughout the book. When Macdonald finally realized that she was suffering from depression and sought treatment, from that moment on- the entire tone of her story changes. There is more self-awareness in each of her examinations and it is an interesting commentary on the value of medication when it comes to dealing with situational depression.


The instant "New York Times" bestseller and award-winning sensation, Helen Macdonald's story of adopting and raising one of nature's most vicious predators has soared into the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. Fierce and feral, her goshawk Mabel's temperament mirrors Helen's own state of grief after her father's death, and together raptor and human "discover the pain and beauty of being alive" ("People"). "H Is for Hawk" is a genre-defying debut from one of our most unique and transcendent voices.

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