Melissa Hart, a desperately lonely young divorcée and L.A. transplant, finds herself stranded in rainy Eugene, Oregon, working from home in the company of her two cats and two large mutts. At the local dog park, she meets a fellow dog owner named Jonathan: a tall, handsome man with a unibrow and hawk-like nose. When he invites her to accompany him on a drive to Portland to retrieve six hundred pounds of frozen rats and a fledgling barred owl, sparks fly!Their courtship blossoms in a raptor rehabilitation center where wounded owls, eagles, falcons, and other iconic birds of prey take refuge and become ambassadors for their species. Initially, Melissa volunteers here in order to "sink her talons" into her new love interest, but soon she falls hopelessly in love with her fine feathered charges: Archimedes, a gorgeous snowy owl; Lorax, a serene great-horned owl; and Bodhi, a baby barred with a permanently injured wing. Even as human-habituated birds, they retain a wildness that hoodwinks even the most experienced handlers. Overcoming her fears, Melissa bravely suffers some puncture wounds to get closer to these magnificent creatures.Melissa and Jonathan start out convinced they don't want children, but caring for birds who have fallen from their nests triggers a deep longing in Melissa to mother an orphaned child. Thus they embark on a heart-wrenching journey to adoption. Every page sparkles with vivid imagery and wit in this beautifully written memoir of parallel pursuits. Wild Within is, above all, about the power of loveromantic, animal, and parentalto save lives and fulfill dreams.
|Publisher:||Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
Melissa Hart is a nature and travel writer and the author of Gringa: A Contradictory Girlhood. She teaches feature and travel writing at the University of Oregon. She lives in Eugene, Oregon, with her husband and their daughter.
Table of Contents
Prologue: "Clip Me" 1
1 Caged 8
2 Tooth and Talon 21
3 Disparate Species 32
4 Obligate Carnivores 46
5 Rehabilitation 57
6 Icon in the Closet 73
7 Detach with Love 83
8 Meow 93
9 Distressed Baby Great Horned Owl 106
10 "If We Have to Eat Roadkill" 117
11 Owl with a Foot Fetish 127
12 Lost Girls 140
13 Hazed 153
14 Wish You Were My Daughter 167
15 Parents in Progress 180
16 One False Move 193
17 The Red Thread 205
18 Ambiguity 217
19 Owl in the Living Room 226
20 Everything's Political 237
21 Love People, and Feed Them 245
22 Prostitutes and Bird Trainers 256
23 A Baby Who Hasn't Been Harmed 266
24 A Rescue Attempt 277
25 Always a Hidden Story 293
26 Destiny Child 302
Appendix (Raptor Centers and Adoption Resources) 317
About the Author 322
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Melissa Hart shares her journey of trying to adopt a child with her husband, first internationally then domestically, while also detailing her years of work as a volunteer at a raptor rehabilitation center. At first she cleans mews and brings food to the birds, but slowly she gains the confidence to train several different owls for the glove. This takes dedication and patience, and little does she know this is the perfect training for caring for a child who might have a history of trauma as well. If you've ever been fascinated by birds of prey, especially owls, then this book is a gem not to be missed. And any parent, whether biological or not, will relate to the wild longings that Melissa has for parenthood. I was captivated by her journey, and highly recommend this book.
Melissa Hart is an interesting lady with an interesting hobby - as a raptor handler she fell in love with handling birds who have come to be rescued through horrific circumstances, but it is her and other volunteers job to nurse them back to hopefully be released or as Plan B to become a advocate for their species. She is drawn to volunteer through a guy, but stays due to her own personal convictions. My favorite part of the book was the ability to watch her transformation as a volunteer at the rescue center and how it paralleled with her and her husband's long story to adopting a child. There were many moments when I had to remind myself that this wasn't fiction and that she really lived through these ups and downs and that she is one of many on the road to adopting a child. The one part that kept me from completely falling in love with the book was all of the owl/bird/raptor terms, as a complete bird novice I enjoyed those parts, but would have loved a little definition and maybe just to give a few moments at the beginning to provide some basic bird terms.
In this memoir, we follow Melissa Hart; recent divorcee living in Oregan. While at a dog park, she meets Jonathan; tall, handsome and lover of raptors. He educates Melissa on these amazing creatures and even gets her involved with volunteering at the raptor rehabilitation center that he works at. At first, her decision to volunteer was solely with the hopes of getting to know Jonathan more, but as she gets more involved with these amazing owls, falcons, eagles and other “raptors,” she realizes that her desire to learn more about Jonathan has piqued her new interest in these animals. Content with their new-found relationship, Melissa is happy with not having children of her own. However, the time and love that she shares with these wounded animals has brought out a feeling that she never knew existed. Her desire to start a family and explore adoption was born out of her love for these creatures. And she realizes that the definition of family is not in matching DNA, but where your heart and love lies. I have always been a lover of animals, so this book was one I knew would interest me. However, it was more than just the aspect of animals. The love that is shown not only to the animals, but between Melissa and Jonathan is beautiful. And, as a parent to an adopted child, their story of adoption sealed my love for this book. I absolutely recommend this book to others. It not only appeals to animal lovers, but lovers of love in general.
As a former wildlife rehab volunteer, I read this book with fond memories of the joys and pains of that work. Melissa Hart has captured well the emotional roller coaster that caring for hurt and broken animals entails. Her descriptions are vivid and compelling - although I bought the book for the experience of working with raptors, I found that the adoption story was a wonderful addition and allows the book to become something greater than the sum of the two stories; a tale of longing and loss, and eventual redemption and salvation.
They continue to amaze me. It’s their finesse and their subtle ways that attract my attention as they soar so freely without restraints and then they sit and just stare as if pondering life’s great mysteries, they are truly amazing creatures. Melissa has captured their essence in her biography to such an extent that her own story seems to take second stage to the life of these winged creatures. Such detail and accounting she puts forth into this novel, explaining the lives of these birds of prey, that I feel that I have a world of knowledge in my hands, just holding this book. Owls, hawks, falcons, harriers and eagles are all covered in detailed in this book as Melissa narrates her memoir, which is in essence falling in love. Melissa’s first love begins when she meets Jonathan in the dog park. Working at a raptor center, she’s fascinated by the work that he does. She follows every word he says, catching every breath he breathes, she just can’t get enough of him. Asking if she would like to volunteer with him, she hesitates, she’s fearful, not because of Jonathan, no….she’s afraid of birds. Slowly and patiently, Melissa decides she can do a few duties around the center as long as she doesn’t have any bird contact. I thought it was so interesting how she was so absorbed with Jonathan but still so fearful of the birds that he adored. How she longed to be a part of his life but this fear so often plagued her life. Jonathan and the other individuals encouraged Melissa, pushed her to become more involved, encouraged her to get more training but her fear kept her from stepping forward. It was the Juno, the great-horned owl that fascinated Melissa. It pushed her to take the steps to start overcoming her fear slowly, for this fear would take a long time to fully beat. These steps would lead her to her second love in her life, the birds. Like all relationships, Melissa holds nothing back as she talks about the choices the couple makes as they handle work, marriage and the thoughts of parenthood as they make their way through adulthood. Melissa finds another love in her life, something she thought she would not have the chance to experience, but sometimes life is not predictable, you just go with the flow. I was given this book in exchange for an honest opinion. 4.5 stars
a lovely history