From Publishers Weekly
Despite an intriguing premise, Ellis-Bell's memoir of adopting an obstinate parrot fails to capture the spirit of either the bird or her owner. A literary agent living in rural California with her husband, Ellis-Bell already had a menagerie that included dogs, cats and even a family of raccoons living under the deck. But her life changed when she brought home a one-footed blue and gold wild-caught macaw named Peg Leg. Rechristening her Sarah, Ellis-Bell soon realized that despite her love of animals, she had no idea how to care for such an ornery creature. Sarah soon had the run of the house, climbing furniture and stealing the dogs' toys and bones. Even though Sarah refused to be touched, she and Ellis-Bell soon bonded and Sarah would follow the author from room to room like a puppy. The decision of whether or not to allow Sarah to fly free outdoors was an agonizing one for Ellis-Bell, and its consequences were monumental. Prone to repetition, Ellis-Bell moves through Sarah's life in strict linear fashion that too soon feels episodic. That said, Sarah is a delightfully mischievous creature the reader grows to love as Ellis-Bell did. (July)
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*Starred Review* Peg-Leg entered Ellis-Bell’s life after the author was captivated by her eyes at a “parrot weekend,” a get-together for potential and current parrot owners. The blue-and-gold macaw lost a foot during her capture from the wild, was abused by her previous owner, and became vicious as a result. Renamed Sarah, she now lives with a person who loves her and is eager to make a better life for a poor battered bird. When first released from her cage, Sarah climbs down and rousts the family dogs from their dishes, absconding with an entire rib bone. Laundry time becomes playtime as the macaw digs through the freshly dried laundry, showing a particular fondness for lingerie. After two months of exploring the house on foot, Sarah starts flying, and strafing the dogs becomes her new joy. Upon seeing her interact with the resident ravens through the window, the author decides to let her go outside, and gardening with Sarah becomes a paradise for both human and bird. Life with a macaw is always an adventure, since they are easily bored and have the maturity level of a perpetual three-year-old. Ellis-Bell captures this ongoing sense of discovery perfectly. --Nancy Bent