Sunday, March 18, 2012

Immortal Bird

I remember reading somewhere that Immortal Bird was a father's memoir about his son's health issues and I thought I read that it was also about him overcoming them. Not to be a spoiler, but that is only partially correct. It is a father's memoir about his son and his son's health issues and the innefectiveness/incompetence of the medical field. But it is not about his son overcoming these issues. I am lucky I read enough of the flap and then breezed ahead to the end of the book and read the author's notes. It helped prepare me for the heartbreak ahead.

Maybe I had a stronger reaction than most because I could very much identify with Doron and the hand he was dealt - having a child with a life threatening illness. I could identify with almost everything Weber said. Each time Damon has an ache or pain, Weber worries and puzzles over it. (Been there, done that. Still do that). Weber spent hour upon hour researching the medical treatments recommended for his son, searching out specialists, travelling for second, third, fourth opinions. I, too, have spent many hours talking to other parents in the same situation as mine, finding support on the internet along with additional resources. And while we were happy with the care our daughter received at the hospital from her doctors, I can at the same time relate to Weber's frustration and anger as he feels his son slipping away while doctors take time off and forget to return his calls.

While I very much understood Weber's side of the story, this book is also a tribute to Damon, a boy who just wants to be normal. A budding actor, a teenager who enjoys spending time with friends. A boy who created his own blog (parts are included at the beginning of various chapters). Weber includes not just his son's health crisis and the parts of their life that centered around that, but also the other bits and pieces, a variety of anecdotes.

Weber is a writer, so it should be no surprise that in addition to this being an interesting memoir, it is also well written. Several years ago, I read another father/son memoir written by a writer - Beautiful Boy by David Sheff. Immortal Bird reminded me very much of this memoir, partially because of the father/son connection, but also because of the superb writing and my inability to put these books down.

Immortal Bird is profoundly sad, yet at the same time it is a beautiful tribute to one boy and the love of his father.

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