- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Convergent Books; Reprint edition (September 8, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1601425201
- ISBN-13: 978-1601425201
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 306 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love Paperback – September 8, 2015
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“Profound, tender, honest—and utterly unforgettable.”
— Gretchen Rubin, author of #1 New York Times bestseller, The Happiness Project
“Will touch every reader who picks it up.”
"In this powerful debut memoir, blogger Whiston-Donaldson tells the tragic story—of the death of her 12-year-old son Jack. The author is an emotionally insightful guide to the territory of grief. She notes the relationship of grief and shame, the comforts and sorrows of sex, and the hideous fights between bereaved parents. From its disarming opening sentence (“I thought the first book I’d write would be about painting furniture”), the book avoids sentimentality. The book is well paced—the reader knows from the start that the author’s child is dead, but doesn’t know precisely how he dies for some chapters—and is underpinned by a steady drumbeat of faith, as Whiston-Donaldson negotiates a new relationship with God after Jack’s death. She feels deeply loved by God, “almost as if I’m wrapped in a soft, cotton batting,” but she is also “disappointed and hurt... and the only broken body I can picture right now is Jack’s.” Whiston-Donaldson’s compelling account belongs on the shelf next to Richard Lischer’s Stations of the Heart."
“In her beautiful, clear-eyed prose Anna brings to life complex miracles: that the anchor of being strong is tied to feelings of unbearable weakness; that the ache of grief is often accompanied by glittering beauty; and that all we do not understand is more important to making sense of life than what we know. Her story, as well as Jack’s story, is gorgeous, bold and true, and no one will be unchanged in reading it.”
— Stacy Morrison, Editor in Chief, BlogHer; author of Falling Apart in One Piece
“This is not a book; it is a kaleidoscope. With every turn of the page, a new discovery is made that forever alters your view of pain, joy, heartache, time, hope, and healing. As I journeyed through Anna’s divinely written prose, I found myself unable to stand by as a passive recipient of her message. I needed to act. Because of Anna and Jack, I talked with my child about heaven. I walked around the pool’s edge to sit beside a grieving woman. I looked into the darkest places of my soul and for the first time, I did not look away. If you yearn to stop hiding from that which prevents you from truly living, step into the kaleidoscope that is Rare Bird. Turn the page—wake up, stand up, comfort, love, and live. Turn the page—let your eyes be opened to the light that exists in whatever darkness you face.”
— Rachel Macy Stafford, New York Times best-selling author of Hands Free Mama
“A masterpiece of hope, love, and the resilience and ferocity of the human spirit.”
— From the foreword by Glennon Doyle Melton, Momastery.com; author of Carry On, Warrior
"Rare Bird is not just another well-written story of love, loss, and the aftermath of death, but it is a story that clearly shows the constant presence and grace of a loving God. It gives assurance and comfort to those whose hearts are grieving, and hope to those who are afraid."
— Mary C. Neal, MD, New York Times best-selling author of To Heaven and Back
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Anna Whiston-Donaldson is a popular blogger at An Inch of Gray. A graduate of James Madison University and Wake Forest University, she taught high school English for six years before becoming a full-time mom and writer. She lives with her husband, Tim, and daughter, Margaret, in suburban Washington, DC.
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Throughout the past three years, I’ve kept up with the Donaldson’s story through Anna’s blog and through facebook. Though I’ve never met her, I’ve felt so connected to her and her family that when I heard she was releasing a book about her Jack, I pre-ordered it and insisted my friends do the same because she felt… like family.
And then Rare Bird arrived on my Kindle.
This a book to cherish.
These are words to wind around and through your heart again and again until you bleed with the sheer cutting wisdom and love. Because this is a book so full of love that it spills out and around the virtual pages until you can barely see through the tears. I never before realized how much tears taste like love. This book has moved me in ways I can’t begin to describe because though it is a book about a mother’s grief… it is more. It is a book about a mother’s hope… a mother’s love… a mother’s heart. This is a love story from a mother to her two children and it is hauntingly beautiful. When I was barely half way through, I pulled my son from his bed and snuggled with him to read the rest. When I dropped him off at school this morning, I didn’t care if I was embarrassing him when I hugged him close and kissed the softness of his cheek. Because I am his mother and I love him with a ferocity.
Anna loves her son with a ferocity.
Anna loves her God with a ferocity.
And this book reconciles her loss of one and her belief in another in a way that is timeless and breathtaking. And yes sad. And yes also brilliantly honest and real.
This is a book about love and it is the most devastating of love stories. I can not tell you that you won’t cry… because you will. I can not tell you that you won’t be afraid and broken alongside this mother, because you will. But you will also be filled with so much love that you will absolutely not be able to keep it from exploding out of you into the world. Because even in her grief, this is first and foremost a book about love. And I am honored that Anna shared her love of her son with the world… because it inspires me to love better, to love bigger, to let go and to remember that we just don’t know how long we have to love these precious gifts. And so we should love them the best and the biggest while we can. Anna’s thoughts on life after life… the inexplicable life that comes after the biggest hurt of all… are healing in a way I never knew I needed to be healed. There is a God. Even when we think there isn’t. Even when we hurt so big that there is nothing safe from our pain. There is a God.
And he loves us. And he loves Anna. And Jack. And Tim. And most especially Margaret.
I don’t really do book reviews. I don’t go into the words or the story or how the author chooses to put things in writing… there are professionals who can break and parse and tell you all of that. What I know is my heart… and my heart loves this book. So if you want to know what love tastes like, go read this book, inhale the love Anna has for her children, and then share it with the world… the way she has.
I love this book because it held my interest all the way through. There are no boring parts. It's both heartrending and uplifting. There are small miracles. I am a lover of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books--especially the ones that center on messages from departed loved ones and miracles. So there's some chicken soup in this book to warm your heart and strengthen your faith. But Jack's family are human beings--they're flesh and blood and they have a terrible unexpected untimely death to grieve. I hung on every word. Whiston-Donaldson tells her story so honestly and openly. She doesn't pretend to be a saint. She tells us about all her family's feelings including the anger and resentment that can be a part of grief. It's as though she opened up her soul and let us see just what it's like to have two beautiful children and then suddenly one is gone.
I can't praise her enough for sharing her story.
Most recent customer reviews
grief is very different and very personal, illustrating with...Read more