Friday, January 21, 2011

Book Review: Lift - Rebecca K. O'Connor

I've been meaning to review the book "Lift" by Rebecca O'Connor ever since treating my self to a signed copy this christmas. Rebecca is one of the many incredible people I've been lucky enough to engage while tweeting, blogging and generally blathering over the internet about birds, beer, and other things that get me out of bed in the morning. I knew she had written books about Parrots, and kept a number of them as pets, I knew she likes high-end Tequila, I knew she had a sharp whit, and most intriguingly, I knew she had a close relationship with a Peregrine Falcon that she hunts with. What I'm trying to say is, I didn't know Rebecca particularly well, but everything I did know suggested that she probably had some interesting stories to tell. I was not wrong.

Lift is a fascinating book on so many levels. On one level it is a gripping, and at times heart wrenching, account of her experience catching, training, and eventually hunting with Anakin, her Peregrine Falcon. It provides an intimate look at this unlikely relationship between a passionate falconer and the inscrutable hunter whose trust she has to work so hard to earn and maintain. Falconry, it turns out, is a hobby that demands high levels of commitment, hard-work, discomfort, and risk. The rewards, when everything come together and human and raptor work together as a team sound entirely commensurate.

If you are drawn to the book because of an interest in birds or falconry, you certainly won't be disappointed. Seeing a Peregrine Falcon through Rebecca's eyes, and experience, is a captivating experience, providing a fascinating insight into what has to be one of the most iconic birds on the planet. Lift is not however, simply a book about falconry, it is a multi-faceted book that is not so easily pigeon-holed. Rebecca gives this book a much larger scope by embedding the story of Anakin in the larger context of her own life journey; a story that will resonate with anybody who has struggled to find their place in the world, or fought to overcome demons from their past. The candour with with Rebecca bares her soul in this book is mirrored in the gritty determination it must have taken to achieve mastery of a sport that is still extremely male-dominated.

Lift is an inspirational, poignant, and beautiful story. My only complaint was that it ended too soon, and I hope she will share more of her adventures and experiences in the future. I can't recommend this book too highly. You can, and should, order signed copies of the book directly from Rebecca's website: which also hosts her excellent blogs about both falconry and her parrots.

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