IMMORTAL BIRD by Doron Weber


A Family Memoir
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A father's intimate portrait of a dying son.

In his debut memoir, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation program director Weber chronicles his son's monumental struggles with a malformed heart. Damon's coming-of-age amid his illness quickly becomes the narrative focal point, as well as the effects of a family worn thin from the strain of his suffering. Damon's father provides a voyeuristic view of a family in turmoil, serving as both patriarch and Damon's most dedicated supporter. Yet after 9/11, Weber reached a startling conclusion: "Why couldn’t we stop this?" he writes. "What else can’t we protect [the children] from?” The answer was, heartbreakingly, a life-threatening illness. After a series of surgeries and the near-constant seesawing of Damon's health, the family soon learned that a heart transplant remained his only option for survival. Weber faithfully recounts this struggle, but Damon's blog posts provide the most unadulterated view of innocence corrupted by illness. Weber's occasional overstep from intimacy to indulgence is easily forgiven by the characters he brings to life, even as he watches his main character "disintegrating before [his] eyes.” In the climactic scene, as father and son met once more around the hospital bed, the author attempted a stoic farewell to his son: "There's no time for false modesty," he writes. "I'm only giving Damon is due."

A heartsick father's poignant account of his heartsick son, and a primer on the fragility of life.


Pub Date: Feb. 7th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4516-1806-8
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2011


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