So you might have worked out that I am a bit enamored with all things owl, so this memoir was right up my alley. The cover featuring Wesley as an owlet sold me, but I learnt a lot about what it means to keep an owl and what it means to be an owl. Stacey O'Brien writes with the devotion of a mother and the dedication of a scientist.
"The Way of the Owl" is a refrain that O'Brien uses to explain the behaviour of owls. For example, did you know that owls mate for life? And when an owl's partner dies, he might turn his head to the trunk of his tree and sink into such deep depression that he dies too. There's a lot to learn about owls, but equally about relationships in this book. O'Brien sacrifices a lot because she adopts Wesley, but she intimates that the sort of guy who couldn't accept her owl would not be right for her anyway. In the end, Wesley saves her, to return the favour if you like.
One aspect of this book which might put off some readers (squeamish teenage girls for example) is the amount of mice that are killed and consumed. O'Brien doesn't hold back on the gory details. And the graphic description of the coughed up pellet which contains a complete rodent skeleton might also be a bit much for some. Personally, I took great joy in reading these sections out loud to those in earshot!
The problem with animal based memoirs is that the end of the story is all too predictably sad. I really liked that O'Brien foregrounded this:
The one thing that I hate about animal stories is that after you have almost read the entire book and really care about the animal, they go and tell you how the animal died... so you should stop reading now if you don't want to hear about Wesley dying.I am a big sookey-lala, so I had a little cry, certainly not as much as I did reading Marley and Me, but she is right about caring for the animal you're reading about. The talent of the writer is to get you to care.
- owl lovers! There's a memorable scene where Wesley stretches his wings to hug O'Brien
- animal memoir fans
- readers interested in wildlife science; there's a lot of science in this book
- pet memoir short stories are always popular
- research ten things you don't know about an animal