Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir by Doron Weber

"Maybe I’ve finally beaten this thing, maybe three years’ struggle will not have been in vain. Maybe this is finally over . . .” —from Damon’s blog, May 2004 A FAMILY’ S LOVE lies at the heart of this gifted boy’s fight to survive. Born with a congenital heart defect that required surgery when he was a baby, Damon Weber lives a big life with spirit and independence that have always been a source of pride to his parents, Doron and Shealagh. But when Damon is diagnosed with a new illness as a teenager, his triumphant coming-of-age tale turns into a darker and more dramatic quest: his family’s race against time and a flawed heath care system.Immortal Bird is a searing account of a father’s struggle to save his remarkable son, a story of a young boy’s passion for life, and a tribute to his family’s love. It is also a story of the perils of modern medicine and the redemptive power of art in the face of the unthinkable.

What a devastating, beautiful book. I finished it last night, and it is still haunting me. This is a memoir chronicling a father’s love for his very ill son, Damon. From the first page, this book will grab hold of you, first subtly, then much more forcefully, until you are engrossed in this family’s struggles.

What makes this memoir so haunting is how Mr. Weber brings his son to absolute life in these pages. Damon spills over, out of the printed words, full of energy, taking hold of the reader’s heart in a way that I’ve not encountered in a memoir in a long time, if ever. I am not one to shed tears while reading, but this book broke that rule many times over. The love this family had for Damon shines through in all these pages. It is a difficult book to read, but there is so much hope also enmeshed in the narration, in Mr. Weber’s voice, that it is bittersweet rather than completely depressing.

Some of the most difficult parts to read are the horrors that Damon and his family go through after his heart transplant. The lack of care from the supposed medical experts was a shock to the senses. It’s incredible to think that if they’d done their job, this family’s life could have been changed. If the cavalier way they treated Damon’s health is enough to anger a reader, imagine what it must have done to his loved ones?

There are no real words to express how much this book struck me. I will be recommending it to everyone I know because this is a must-read. As soon as it comes out (next February), go grab a copy.

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