H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald | Book Review
Updated: Mar 27
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H is for Hawk tells Helen Macdonald’s journey through grief and the joy falconry brought her. As a young child, she and her father would watch for goshawks, and it sparked a fascination with birds of prey. Growing up, she learned all she could about falconry, determined she would one day have a bird of her own. Years later when she lost her father, it would be a goshawk who helped her overcome her grief. Her hawk, Mabel, would help her see the world with new eyes.
Helen weaves together memories of her father and her journey to falconry. She also draws parallels between the author T.H. Write and his book on falconry, where he did just about everything wrong, and her methods of taming Mabel. It was fascinating to learn about goshawks, and how they interact with the world around them. The way Helen described Mabel in flight painted pictures of a beautiful and deadly creature hunting her prey.
My favorite moments were when she began to understand her young Goshawk and connect with her on an emotional level. Having parrots of my own, I understand that instant you realize how much you love them despite how different you are. And you will do anything to make sure they are happy and healthy.
Helen also went through moments where she thought she was a horrible trainer. The depression from her father’s death and the uncertainty of training a goshawk combined to make her doubt herself. These moments spoke to me. There have been many times I’ve felt guilty, wondering if I did everything right for parrots I rescue. Taming a bird is never easy, regardless of the species. There is a part of them that will always remain wild. Birds of prey more so than the parrots I am familiar with, but still, there is that part of them that will never be tame.
When I saw this book sitting on the bookstore shelf, I knew I had to read it. I love learning about birds, and I had never heard of a goshawk before. And even though it wasn’t quite what I expected, I still enjoyed it.
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