Wild Within: How Rescuing Owls Inspired a Family

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9780762796809: Wild Within: How Rescuing Owls Inspired a Family

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 love—romantic, animal, and parental—to save lives and fulfill dreams.

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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.

Review:

"Animals, by their very nature, transform our lives in the most unexpected ways.  Wild Within is a magical journey through those astounding life changes.  It takes you into the rarefied world of raptor rescue, and from there into the profound realities of adoption--weaving the two worlds together to powerful effect.  The glow of this journey will stay with you for a long time.  Do not miss out on this rare gem!"
--Stacey O'Brien, author of Wesley the Owl

"Wild Within is a delight, an uncommon braiding of family, heartbreak, romance, redemption, and--of course--raptors.  In sparkling prose, Melissa Hart has woven a tale as intricate and as beautiful as a bird's nest."
--Lyanda Lynn Haupt, author of Crow Planet and The Urban Bestiary

"Twin narratives skillfully woven together make for an exciting and endearing roller coaster of a memoir."
--Publishers Weekly

"A compelling, constantly entertaining story of bravery and dedication, Wild Within soars with insights not only about eagles and owls, but also about the unsettled inner lives of humans."
--Bob Tarte, author of Enslaved by Ducks and Kitty Cornered

"An engaging text . . . Hart sneaks in snippets of natural history and wildlife rehabilitation ethics, bringing this little known profession to a popular audience. Provides a new volunteer's view of wildlife rehabilitation, making it a valuable read for the seasoned professional as well as the general public . . . an expert author's skills applied to the passion of wildlife rehabilitation, penning the successes and failures of this emerging field in wildlife conservation."
--Kai Williams, director of International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council

In this engaging memoir, Melissa Hart recounts her time spent at a raptor rehabilitation center in Oregon while also pursuing the adoption of a child. Seamlessly weaving these themes together, she illuminates how helping another species is really no different than wanting to help and raise a child in need. . . .Wild Within explores our instinctual need to nurture, both within our own species and within the animal kingdom. . . .This is a tale of seeking the world from the heart: Helping wild birds demands nothing less, and neither does adopting a child. Melissa and Jonathan were blessed, in the end, with a beautiful little girl, but it’s the time spent with the owls that lingers in a reader’s mind long after the tale has ended. (Women's Adventure)

An upbeat and honest memoir of finding a soul mate and a child through aegis of hawks and owls. (Booklist)

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