Subtitle: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and his Girl.
I had seen this book mentioned somewhere on-line as a good read, and so when I came across it at a book sale, I snatched it up with glee. However, it was not as filled with glee as I had anticipated. Let me explain…
The story is true and a lovely narrative – girl adopts baby owl and they live together having significant effects on each other’s lives. However, it was the writing that I felt downgraded the experience somewhat. I don’t mean to be a picky reader, but when you spend a lot of time reading really good writing and then you come across some that’s not, it’s rather a stark contrast.
To the author’s credit, it was her first book, I don’t think she has a strong writing background, etc etc. I just wish that someone along the publishing path had helped O’Brien edit it to make it a stronger document. It would have been shorter, but it would have been more robust.
It would also help the structure and the general organization of the book – the lack of enough material manifested itself in some pretty awful recounted dialogue between the human and the owl at times and reading this was, at times, similar to having to listen to a teenager stringing some rather random facts together about an event that’s really important to them, but not to anyone else. Eek.
A hilarious review by someone called Caris on Goodreads describes the ending like this:
“And, lastly, she spends a few pages anthropomorphizing the owl’s various hoots and feather rufflings. I’ll leave it to you to assume how annoying that was.”
(See “weird bird lover” comments down below. Compare with “Crazy Cat Lady/Man.”)
It’s not that there were painful grammarian problems or issues or typos (thankfully), but more that the story was not enough for a book-length feature. As I said, it’s a great story – who wouldn’t love a story of a baby owl who needs to be rescued and ends up with a lifelong family? That’s all good. It’s just that I am not convinced that it had enough story to make it a full-length book, and I think the book suffers from it.
(I don’t mean to be mean. O’Brien seems to have a heart of gold here about wild bird rehabilitation etc., but it just makes me cringe to see a new writer put out a product that perhaps does not show her potential to its fullest. Did I mention that she needed an editor? Perhaps two or more?…)
(Also the author crosses the line a
bit lot in terms of being a weird bird lover – there are a few rather border-line situations described that are more than a little strange when you read them….)
Oddness aside, you can tell that O’Brien feels passionately about this creature, and I’m glad that they found each other as they seem to have had a good life together. She just crosses the line into weirdness more than one or two times, that’s all.
And I did learn that owls lay eggs. (Perhaps this is a widely known fact for most people, but it never crossed my mind that owls would lay eggs. Makes sense when you think about it, but I think I had not really thought about it before.)
Also about eggs: the owl lays one egg a day for about five days straight, and then the eggs hatch one a day in the order that they were laid.
And this struck me as very cool: owls can heard a mouse’s heartbeat under three feet of snow and will accurately dive down and dig through the snow to get it. Impressive.
So, great story — not such a great read.