Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Book Review -- Immortal Bird


Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir

My enjoyment rating: (Mr. Weber's story 1 star; Damon's story 5 stars) = 3 of 5 stars
Book Source:  Library copy
Genre:  Memoir

Is it even possible to be critical about a book that details the death of one’s son without sounding callous? I’m going to try…

Damon Weber was born with a congenital heart defect – the number one leading birth defect in all children – a single ventricle that required two surgeries immediately after his birth. For the next 13 years, Damon and his family lived a fairly normal life, free of heart complications. But that would soon change when Damon develops a rare, life threatening disease directly related to his initial heart repair. After years of treatments, medications, and failed procedures, Damon and his family are faced with the only option left – a heart transplant. What transpires after his transplant is truly tragic and a parent’s worst nightmare.

Doron Weber has written an angry, caustic, and powerful account of the life and death of his son, Damon.

Although Mr. Weber’s takes us on an amazing, but painful journey through the final years of Damon’s life and treats us to a Damon who is talented, witty, brilliant, and tireless, I’m not sure if this was Damon’s memoir or Mr. Weber’s?

It is loaded with references to Mr. Weber’s education, experience, connections, colleagues – and an arrogance that is nearly suffocating. While an advocate for his very ill son, Mr. Weber believes his own intellect and knowledge and his access to the elite echelon of achievers in each sector of society will best the doctors who are treating his son. In reality, Mr. Weber was trying to use his contacts to play God.

But in the final pages, even with Mr. Weber’s haughty attitude, it’s ultimately a father’s (and mother’s) love that permeates the story about Damon and his fight to survive and his tragic death.

As a side note: My connection to this book is personal – my youngest son was also born with a congenital heart defect – and although his issues are different than Damon’s, the anguish I felt at the end of this book rocked my soul.