I have struggled with what to say about this book for the past couple of days. It is not that I am having trouble organizing my thoughts, but that my thoughts fall squarely into two categories. I am having trouble rectifying these two, rather disparate, groups of thoughts. To fully explain the quandary that I am in, I have to talk about the book in such a way as to give away some of what happens.
Immortal Bird is a account of Damon, a young boy with serious health problems. I can't fathom the stress and heartache that Damon and his family went through. The author, Damon's father, does an excellent job of conveying the uncertainty of a life lived with such a serious heart condition. He chronicles what Damon went through as he struggled with various disorders and illnesses related to and exacerbated by his condition. The book draws to a close with Damon slowly passing from this earth in an ICU, surrounded by the love of his parents. The last few pages of the book were absolutely gut-wrenching.
It's hard to bring myself to type the next sentence, in light of what I have just described in the previous paragraph. However, I had a number of issues with the writing. All too often there was a self-serving and even pretentious tone to the writing. There were many sentences like this one: "I've written a couple of medical books, I work with top scientists and researchers, and I'm relentless in my digging." There were many places where I found myself thinking that the book was just as much about Doron as it was about Damon. I know if seems ridiculous to accuse a man who has written a book about his son's death of self-promotion, and let me be clear, I am not doing that. I am simply saying that there many points throughout Immortal Bird where I cringed at something I read. I think the problem may have been that editors struggled with the same thing I am struggling with. How do you critique a book such as this? How do you tell this father that he should change this line or that line because it sounds to self-serving? I don't envy the position they were in.
I don't know who among my friends and acquaintances I would recommend read this book. This is not because of the issues I had with the writing, but because of the nature of the story. A book such as this would crush someone like my mom. Its grief would be too much for her to handle. I do feel that this should be required reading for medical students. The experiences the Weber family went through at hospitals and doctors offices could provide valuable instruction for those going into any medical profession that interacts directly with patients.