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Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love Hardcover – September 9, 2014

4.7 out of 5 stars 406 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Profound, tender, honest—and utterly unforgettable.”
— Gretchen Rubin, author of #1 New York Times bestseller, The Happiness Project

“Will touch every reader who picks it up.”

–The Washingtonian

"In this powerful debut memoir, blogger Whiston-Donaldson tells the tragic story—of the death of her 12-year-old son Jack. The author is an emotionally insightful guide to the territory of grief. She notes the relationship of grief and shame, the comforts and sorrows of sex, and the hideous fights between bereaved parents. From its disarming opening sentence (“I thought the first book I’d write would be about painting furniture”), the book avoids sentimentality. The book is well paced—the reader knows from the start that the author’s child is dead, but doesn’t know precisely how he dies for some chapters—and is underpinned by a steady drumbeat of faith, as Whiston-Donaldson negotiates a new relationship with God after Jack’s death. She feels deeply loved by God, “almost as if I’m wrapped in a soft, cotton batting,” but she is also “disappointed and hurt... and the only broken body I can picture right now is Jack’s.” Whiston-Donaldson’s compelling account belongs on the shelf next to Richard Lischer’s Stations of the Heart."
Publishers Weekly

“In her beautiful, clear-eyed prose Anna brings to life complex miracles: that the anchor of being strong is tied to feelings of unbearable weakness; that the ache of grief is often accompanied by glittering beauty; and that all we do not understand is more important to making sense of life than what we know. Her story, as well as Jack’s story, is gorgeous, bold and true, and no one will be unchanged in reading it.”
— Stacy Morrison, Editor in Chief, BlogHer; author of Falling Apart in One Piece

“This is not a book; it is a kaleidoscope. With every turn of the page, a new discovery is made that forever alters your view of pain, joy, heartache, time, hope, and healing. As I journeyed through Anna’s divinely written prose, I found myself unable to stand by as a passive recipient of her message. I needed to act. Because of Anna and Jack, I talked with my child about heaven. I walked around the pool’s edge to sit beside a grieving woman. I looked into the darkest places of my soul and for the first time, I did not look away. If you yearn to stop hiding from that which prevents you from truly living, step into the kaleidoscope that is Rare Bird. Turn the page—wake up, stand up, comfort, love, and live. Turn the page—let your eyes be opened to the light that exists in whatever darkness you face.”
— Rachel Macy Stafford, New York Times best-selling author of Hands Free Mama

“A masterpiece of hope, love, and the resilience and ferocity of the human spirit.”
— From the foreword by Glennon Doyle Melton, Momastery.com; author of Carry On, Warrior
 
"Rare Bird is not just another well-written story of love, loss, and the aftermath of death, but it is a story that clearly shows the constant presence and grace of a loving God. It gives assurance and comfort to those whose hearts are grieving, and hope to those who are afraid."
— Mary C. Neal, MD, New York Times best-selling author of To Heaven and Back

About the Author

Anna Whiston-Donaldson is a popular blogger at An Inch of Gray. A graduate of James Madison University and Wake Forest University, she taught high school English for six years before becoming a full-time mom and writer. She lives with her husband, Tim, and daughter, Margaret, in suburban Washington, DC.

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Convergent Books (September 9, 2014)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1601425198
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1601425195
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 12.2 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.75 x 0.86 x 8.5 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 406 ratings

About the author

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Anna Whiston-Donaldson is a former high school English teacher who lives in the DC Suburbs. Her blog, An Inch of Gray, shares Anna's stories of humor, motherhood, and loss and has twice been voted one of BlogHer's Voices of the year.

In 2011 her two children went out to play in the rain and only one came home.

Her New York Times bestseller Rare Bird: A Memoir of Loss and Love (Convergent) deals with raw, new grief and finding faith and hope in impossible circumstances.

Rare Bird was one of Publisher's Weekly's top picks of 2014.

Her children's picture book, A Hug from Heaven (Mascot Books 2018) comforts grieving children and models healthy grieving.

Anna has also contributed to Modern Loss: Candid Conversations about Grief (Harper Collins) and Sunshine after the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother.

Anna's writing has been featured in Woman's Day, Ladies' Home Journal, and The Washington Post as well as on For Her, The Daily Beast, Huffington Post and other outlets.

Humorous and full of heart, Anna speaks to groups about resilience, loss, faith and finding a way forward when life is different than you expected.

Find Anna at annawhistondonaldson.com

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
406 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on March 5, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on March 4, 2015
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Reviewed in the United States on July 13, 2015
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Top reviews from other countries

Loualaw
5.0 out of 5 stars An beautifully honest account of Anna's grief of her precious son, Jack
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 24, 2014
One person found this helpful
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I D N
5.0 out of 5 stars Having read Anna's blog I was fairly certain I would not be disappointed. It's hard to say that I 'enjoyed' something ...
Reviewed in Canada on May 21, 2016
One person found this helpful
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melissa bebee
5.0 out of 5 stars What courage this book shows
Reviewed in Canada on July 4, 2020
Arlene Fash
5.0 out of 5 stars At times she is like a rock and at other times she is a ...
Reviewed in Canada on September 28, 2014
One person found this helpful
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Lori
5.0 out of 5 stars It is a beautiful thing to watch God show up in our most ...
Reviewed in Canada on September 30, 2014
One person found this helpful
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