H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

 

 

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

“Hunting with a hawk took me to the very edge of being a human, then it took me past that place to somewhere I wasn’t human at all.”

I stumbled upon this audio book on the Libby app one day.  I love birds and the synopsis sounded interesting, so I gave it a try!  H is for Hawk is a memoir about how Helen deals with the death of her father and her love of falconry.  H is for Hawk, but H is also for Helen. Mabel, the hawk, and Helen, the trainer come together in a very unique and special relationship.  The audio version I listened to was narrated by the author, which made it very interesting as well.

Helen weaves three story threads here: her grief for her late father, her experience training a goshawk, and T.H. White’s parallel journey of personal grief and hawking.  Helen Macdonald says, “Hunting makes you animal but the death of an animal makes you human. Kneeling next to the hawk and her prey, I felt responsibility so huge that it battered inside my own chest, ballooning out into a space the size of a cathedral.” At first read you might think this is borderline hyperbole or overwritten prose, but this memoir/nature/bird watching/falconry book goes quite deep with raw emotion.

The only reason I gave the book a 4 out of 5 was that a considerable part of the book is about the trials of falconer T.H. White and his book “The Goshawk.” I struggled reading just a tiny bit with Helen’s frequent jumps to White’s life and “Gos” because it became redundant and too often took me away from Mabel and Helen.  An interesting story none the less and I think I wouldn’t mind reading T.H. White’s falconry story as well!

P.S. If you don’t know who T.H. White is – he is the author of some well known books, including The Sword in the Stone!

Available on Amazon – H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Educated by Tara Westover

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was my Book Club’s pick for September!  I enjoy reading memoirs, although I hadn’t really heard much about this book before it was picked.  The cover was intriguing to me.  I did end up listening to this on audio.  The story stirred up a lot of conversation, a great pick for book clubs!

This story was unreal.  Tara shares with us the tale of how she grew up and how she became something far apart from her upbringing.  She was 17 before she ever entered a class room.  There didn’t seem to be the time between planning for the apocalypse, canning peaches and helping her mother concoct remedies out of herbs for her mothers midwife gig.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse.  Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with her mothers tinctures.  The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.

Tara began educating herself, sometimes hiding behind a chair to do so.  She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust, which was mind blowing that she knew nothing about!

There is so much that goes on in this book, you’ll want to keep reading it.  It was said by a few book club members that they found it a little hard to get into at first, but got better.  Have you read this book or are you reading it in your book club?  Let me know your thoughts!

Available on Amazon – Educated by Tara Westover