December 28, 2012

Wesley the Owl by Stacey O'Brien

I have a great love of owls. It all started when my uncle nicknamed me "owl". But rather than praising my virtues of wisdom, he used it in a more derogatory way to imply I was a snobbish know-it-all. As much as it hurt, I finally told myself to turn it around and use the animal as a totem of sorts instead, and felt a lot better when I focused on that positive aspect. So there's that connection, and then there's just the fact that they're beautiful creatures.

Wesley the owl was adopted by the author Stacey O'Brien when he was just a few days old. A research at Caltech, she worked with the owl department and was found to be the perfect fit for this owl as he could never be released to the wild because of an injury. So she took him on with only a little idea of what that would mean over time. For nineteen years she cared for Wesley and developed a connection with him that would last the entire time he was alive. Mixed into the book are anecdotes about Wesley and general facts about owls and a little smattering of Stacy's personal life; as it was deeply intertwined with Wesley's life.

Stacy is a pretty fair narrator of herself. She doesn't hold back some of her flaws or embarrassing moments (like Wesley trying to mate with her) but she also doesn't seem self conscious either. It's clear that she was pretty happy with Wesley in her life, even if it did keep her from developing a human relationship. Wesley is just adorable and I enjoyed all the descriptions of his antics and emotions. I always thought of owls as pretty stoic and was surprised to learn at just how much goofiness they possess. And the bond the two had together was pretty incredible.

This book progressed slowly at times, and I think that's because O'Brien just tried to fit a sheer amount of information, stories, and other things into a somewhat small book. I could have easily seen this book be expanded into two different ones; one about owls and the other the personal story of Wesley. But even if it's a little rushed it was still a very enjoyable read. You got to learn about O'Brien as a person and her love for the little owl she raised. It almost made me want an owl myself, but to be honest, just hearing the detail of everything she had to do to care for Wesley and how it impacted her social life, it's not a task to be taken lightly and really, only a professional should ever attempt it. Wild animals are wild animals, and it's very rare that they should be included in someone's home. And like all animals, even Wesley, there does come a time when they grow old and leave us, and like most animal memoirs, that is not left out of this book.

This was definitely a book for owl lovers or even just regular animal lovers. With the photos that showed Wesley you could really get a sense of this unique owl and it added to the book as well. Because "Whoooo" could resist an owl (sorry had to do it)?

Wesley the Owl
Copyright 2008
224 pages

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