Reviewed by Sara Padilla

Beautifully and painstakingly crafted, Immortal Bird, a memoir, tells the story of a son born with a debilitating medical condition that causes him to require a heart transplant at age sixteen. Doron Weber’s use of detail and memory makes the reader understand the depth of the love between father and son, and describes his frustration at not being able to do more to help his son heal. He illuminates their unique relationship by describing his son’s teenage years in particular, and also demonstrates his admiration for the young man his son becomes.

Gifted at school and in theatre, his son works tirelessly to overcome his physical weaknesses in order to live an “ordinary” life. As the story unfolds, however, it is uncertain if or how he will beat the odds that have been stacked against him since he was born.

One lovely element of Immortal Bird is the story behind the story; that is, the description of the sick child’s relationship with not only his father, but also with his mother and two siblings. It is a tale of the deep connection among family members, and brings the reader along on the joys, challenges, and sorrows that this family experiences together. Weber clearly and gently describes the anxiety and uncertainty that the entire family feels as they attempt to make their eldest child well again. It is only by getting to know the son as he is viewed from his father’s eyes that the reader finds comfort in knowing this remarkable young man has lived more in sixteen years than many people do in a lifetime.

Well written and engaging, Immortal Bird is an intimate and heartbreaking read. The intensity of the love felt by a father for his son can be felt on every page, and the commitment demonstrated by the people to someone so interesting and funny and smart, and yet so very ill, is inspiring. However, this book also alerts the reader to some very real and unfortunate realities that reflect a broken health care system and potentially devastating consequences for everyone involved.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Ms. Sara Padilla is a freelance writer and maintains a personal blog on family, health and wellness. She resides in the Pacific Northwest.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Simon & Schuster. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.