Monday, March 13, 2017

Wesley the Owl - Stacey O'Brien

Wesley the Owl
Title: Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl
Author: Stacey O'Brien
Publication Date: 8/19/08
Pages: 230
Genre: Memoir / Nonfiction
How I Found It: One of my best friends chose it for our mini book club.
Date Completed: 2/24/17

Summary: Biologist Stacey O'Brien brought home Wesley the barn owl as an infant owl, knowing he would never survive in the wild on his own. This book encapsulates their journey together and what it was like raising and living with an owl. 

What I Thought: My two best friends and I have a little mini book club. We take turns selecting the book to read. I picked last time and chose The Language of Flowers. This time around, I found myself off to the library to pick up Wesley the Owl

We haven't actually talked about the book together yet, so my opinions may expand. In fact, Clara and Melissa, if either of you are reading this, stop! I don't want your thoughts tainted by mine. 

Right out of the gate, though, I have to admit: this book wasn't really for me. It's not bad. In fact, it's really interesting. I learned a lot about owls. Fact of the book for me: that owls reproductive organs are all internal and they have sex by rubbing what amounts to secretion glands against each other (I'm sure I'm misrepresenting that since I'm not a science person). Totally fascinating. Ultimately, though, it's a book about the bond between human and animal. 

Here's the thing about me. I've never had a pet other than fish. My dad doesn't like animals and so we were never allowed to have anything other than an aquarium. Consequentially, I never learned how to bond with animals like so many other people do. I just don't get it. I know I don't get it. I'm completely aware that there is this relationship between man and beast that I'm fully missing out on. Kevin has teased me mercilessly about it over the years. The things people do for their pets completely baffle me. I don't dislike animals, I just don't understand the appeal because I've never experienced it. Thanks, Dad.

That being said, this book is all about that bond. It's the crux of the whole book. I don't think you could pay me to keep a barn owl in my room for 18 years, much less do the things O'Brien was willing to let Wesley do. It's so far beyond my realm of understanding that I know I'm just not capable of getting it. So, what many readers might find sweet or endearing, I found odd. I'm not discounting O'Brien experience at all. I'm sure I'm passionate about things she wouldn't understand. The discount, however, made me a bad candidate for reading this book, I think.

O'Brien wrote the book in her grief-filled weeks after Wesley's death. Do I even need to say spoiler alert? It's an animal book. Of course the animal dies at the end. His impact on her is so obvious throughout the whole book and her grief is very transparent at the end. It made me wonder if they book may have been different if she had written it later. Looking back from the end, it seems as though the whole writing experience was a cathartic one for her, a coping mechanism to deal with her loss. Again, not judging that at all, just wondering if her story be at all different all these years later. Would she have a more balanced perspective on the bad aspects of living with an owl for almost two decades? 

Ultimately, this wasn't for me. I know that and am fine with it. However, I'm glad I read it. It's always good to stretch your literary muscles (or wings, in this case). O'Brien and I have little in common, which, I believe, makes it that much more important for me to read her story. I'm glad my friend chose it. I definitely own't be getting an owl of my own any time soon, though. 

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Will I Re-Read: Doubtful
If You Liked This, Try: Girl in the Dark / The Reason I Jump / Tiger Heart

A Reduced Review: Perfect for animal lovers, this book is all about the unique bond which grows between human and animal.

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