Rare Bird, A Book Review

I think I discovered Anna’s blog, An Inch of Gray, after the freak accident that took her son. At least. that’s when I dug deep and read all I could, heartbroken for her and wondering how in the world she could find the words to talk about that horrible day that the rains came and washed away her only son.

But somehow, she did. She found words full of wisdom and grace, eloquence, truth, and both love and pain. Those blog posts share bits of her grief and life after that loss. I’ve since become closer to Anna and gotten to know her, but I could never really understand what she has been going through since that day three years ago.

Recently, Anna’s book, Rare Bird, came out. It’s the story of that day her son, Jack, died, and her life since then with the other two remaining members of her family. The book expands on those blog posts, revealing hidden sources of grief and light in Anna’s life.

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Somehow, Anna is able to write about a mother’s worst nightmare, the death of a child, in such a way that brings her readers to that horrible day, lets them feel what she was feeling, and then brings them out of it to the other side, where she is….a place of grief over the loss of a vital part of their family, and hope in the future that somehow, the three of them will make it through.

What struck me most about this book was how much I related to it. Everyone grieves differently, I know that. But I think there are some universal truths about how grieving works, how society treats people who are grieving, and what it can do to a person’s way of thinking. I actually folded the corner of the page with this quote on it:

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I remember walking into a grocery store after my first husband died, and holding my head down. I knew that everyone knew who I was (even though I didn’t know them….it’s a small town phenomenon). I didn’t want the attention I was getting, or for people to pity me when they saw me. I felt so terribly alone, just like Anna talked about.

Rare Bird shows Anna’s faith, time and time again, but it also clearly shows how conflicted a person can be about God, about bad things that happen to good people, about the rest of a life wasted that could have been so full and so, SO much longer. This sentiment and this confusion about a God in Heaven that lets things like this happen (a twelve year old boy who was always so careful, dying in a freak accident, or a young father killed by a drunk driver shortly after finding out he was having another baby) and the temptation to push Him away:

Because hurting people want to understand; we want to know why. But we don’t want people coming to conclusions for us, feeding us neat little answers of what God’s will is and how His mind and heart work. No thank you. (p. 218)

I think what I love most about this book, other than the fact that I truly relate to so much of it, is that Anna is honest without being preachy. She honors Jack’s memory without turning him into some kind of saint, and rather, lets her readers know little details about what wasn’t perfect about her boy in order to demonstrate what a real, smart, funny boy he was.

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You can buy Anna’s book, Rare Bird, on Amazon, but I want to give one away as well. I preordered the book before I was given an advance copy, so I’m going to send someone my extra copy.

All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me why you want to read it or who you want to share it with, and I’ll pick a winner randomly next Monday night (9/22).

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27 thoughts on “Rare Bird, A Book Review

  1. Such a beautiful review, Greta, and I thought about you as I read Rare Bird, thinking that anyone grieving such a deep loss, would certainly find understanding and compassion in her words. I'm glad you did.

  2. I have been following Anna since her beautiful son passed and I would love to have her book. Your review was amazing. I'm so glad she has so much support!

  3. Have read Anna’s blog for some time. Our older son has been essentially missing since 1998. A loss, without a loss. As a pastor I have also ministered to families who have lost a child. This book fills a great need, a great companion to Nancy Guthrie’s book, Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow.

  4. I would love to share this book with my cousin who lost her son 6 years ago. Thank you for giving us this opportunity and for giving this book such a beautiful review.

  5. I would love to read it because I lost my mom to cancer 5 months ago, and my dad was just diagnosed. My family has attended Anna's church for years and I am so grateful she wrote this book.

  6. I want to share Rare Bird with my friend who lost his daughter earlier this year. I've been following Anna since Jack's accident, and she is so raw and insightful while talking about grief.

  7. I read this book on my kindle but would love to share it with my mom who went through the loss of her husband, my dad.

  8. Thank you Greta. I have read it and loved it! I too have lost a husband(23 years ago) and my 14 year old son 1 year and 9 months ago. I too was so moved and nodded my head the whole time I read it. I would like to share it with a friend!

  9. I have been following Anna's blog since the death of her son. She is such a beautiful writer and speaks her truth so well. I have not felt the pain she's felt but have a friend who has. I would love to have a copy of her book. Thanks for the opportunity.

  10. You made me understand even more how grief can be like shame. I'm so sorry that you both have such tremendous losses. But yes, this book is a gift to many people, those who can relate and even those who cannot. Lovely review, my friend.

  11. Such a lovely review, Greta. Rare Bird spoke to me on so many levels and helped me find more peace with the catastrophic losses in my life and it sounds like it helped you too. I'm glad and grateful.

  12. I would love to have a copy to share with others. I knew Anna from a ministry called The Great Banquet. I would love to read a copy of her book. I've been following her blog since 2011.

  13. I want to give this book to one of my sister in law's. She's delivered two stillborn babies within a year and a half. She struggles with grief everyday.

  14. Beautiful post. I admire women like you gals who can rise up after a storm. As no storm has crossed my path, as devastating as yours, it is hard for me to relate. But I know a few people who have lost their babies before… I would read the book then pass it on to them…

  15. A touching review. I'm adding this title to my TBR list. I suddenly lost my father right before Christmas when I was seven months pregnant with his first grandchild (the reasons I disappeared from the blogging world and, quite frankly, life). I know the loss does not compare to that of a child, but the grief has been crushing, and your description of this book speaks to me in a big way right now. Thank you for sharing.

  16. The way you've described Rare Bird is perfect, especially coming from your place of known grief. It will help so many.

  17. I want to share this book with a friend who has just lost her son, daughter in law, and 17 month old grandson in a murder suicide. She is devastated, grieving, stunned. I'm desperate to help her.

  18. Thank you for hosting this giveaway! I've heard so much about this book and would love to read it. I lost my mom three years ago and have a feeling this book would be both a challenge and an encouragement to my soul.

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