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Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  563 Ratings  ·  159 Reviews
A stirring, gorgeously written memoir of a father's struggle to protect his son - a model student and gifted actor - from a rare heart condition that threatens his life.

Damon Weber is a brilliant kid - a skilled actor and a natural leader at school. Born with a congenital heart defect that required surgery when he was a baby, Damon’s spirit and independence have always bee
ebook, 368 pages
Published February 7th 2012 by Simon Schuster
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(showing 1-30)
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Feb 23, 2012 Rene rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

*Disclaimer* I have a 5 year old daughter with multiple congenital heart defects who has had two surgeries, with more waiting in the wings, and is currently in heart failure. I'm sure this colors my perspective and my review.

I keep vascillating between 3 and 4 stars, because while I see some significant downfalls to this book, I also see some really, really important lessons in this book that are aimed at *everyone*.

First, the biggest challenge to reading this book, for me, was the perspective
Jim Jagielski
Jan 07, 2013 Jim Jagielski rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

Immortal Bird - Review.

How does one go about reviewing as personal and as tragic book as "Immortal Bird", written by a grieving father about his young son? How does one justify ratings on a memoir of a young man who died too young, and just as things looked the most hopeful? Does such a poignant theme "require" 5 stars, as if giving any less would in some way minimize the tragedy of the events. Or would one cast their rating based on the impact of the book, in which case I would also have to giv
Dec 08, 2011 LeAnn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

Immortal Bird is the story of how NOT to get help from others.

I did not find the father endearing. I felt sympathy for his son but found the father off-putting and narcissistic. Perhaps the doctors and medical providers were wrong, but the way the father went about "getting help" did not make me feel sympathy for him. I didn't particularly care for the writing or the name-dropping towards the end. I didn't enjoy this book or the feeling
Mar 23, 2012 Kathy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a sobering look at what can go wrong when patients' families clash with a powerful medical system. It's the story of adults behaving badly and a child suffering because of it.
This book disturbed me greatly, not only because of the actions of some in the medical profession which were reprehensible; but because of the actions of Damon's own father. Weber was constantly dropping names and expecting preferential treatment ("My friend and mentor Art Singer offers to call up Nobelist Eric Ka
Jan 23, 2012 Angela rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ala-2012
Because I needed another reason to hate hospitals and doctors. This father devoted his life to making sure the doctors were doing what they needed to do, and he had the money and connections to make these things happen (for the most part), and still lost his son due to negligence. Which begs the question, how many people have died because their families haven't had the money or connections or intelligence or time this father had? The thing that stood out most strongly for me in this book was tha ...more
Feb 23, 2012 Nette rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, yikes. This is a terribly sad book about the illness and death of child, but it's written like the longest, most annoying Christmas newsletter you've ever received. "I know David Milch, so my son got a plum role on Deadwood! "Here's us vacationing every summer in Scotland!" "Here's Damon meeting Al Pacino!" "My son and his friends spent a Saturday helping me process Rhodes scholarship applications! Ha ha, they enjoyed making fun of the pictures!" (That one really burned me.) More annoying ...more
I knew pretty early on that this would be a tough book to review. I know that this book will be popular, I can guarantee it. And, in truth, it is everything it should be; heartwarming, heartbreaking, sad, inspiring, etc. If you haven't already read the book, there's a very good chance that you'll love it, so you should probably just go ahead and read it. I, however, while I am well aware that my reaction is probably highly unusual, did not love it.

I'm just going to go ahead and spoiler the bulk
Tracy Shapley
This review is probably the most difficult I've ever had to write. Immortal Bird is a father's memoir that details the months leading up to his son's death. What this father went through is beyond my comprehension, and I knew that it would be a deeply emotional book. Unfortunately, I cannot say that the book hit the mark for me.

It's obvious that the author needed to write this book. I found myself constantly imagining him sitting alone in a room, remembering every last detail of his son's di
Feb 18, 2012 Laura rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I just couldn't finish this: what I'd hoped would be about this family's incredible loss has turned into being more about this father's anger (and eidetic memory for anything and everything about his son). This isn't to diminish the pain of losing one's son, or the life he led (and might have led had he lived) but, well, the son didn't come through as the hero of this as much as the father does. Here's an example: there's about four pages of a conversation, remembered verbatim, the author has wi ...more
I heard about this book while listening to Science Friday last week when host Ira Flatow interviewed Doron Weber. Just what I needed, I thought, a story about a vibrant teenager who dies too young, but then at the library the book popped off the shelf, so I took it home. First, I'll say it is a compelling read. Even though every reader knows from the start that young Damon Weber will die from his effects of his illnesses, one keeps reading through each step of the terrible decline of this child. ...more
Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir by Doron Weber is a passionate memoir of Doron Weber's son, Damon. Damon was born with a huge health challenge. His heart was missing one of its ventricles. This made him a “blue baby:” He did not get enough oxygen for his body. There are several different birth defects that can cause this syndrome. My brother only lived for six weeks and had a different heart defect. So this experience of losing my brother to this syndrome made reading this book very personal.

Debbie "DJ"
Won this book through Goodreads giveaway.

This is a difficult book to rate as I have mixed feelings about it. It is the story of a father's deep love and profound commitment to his son Damon. Damon is born with a heart defect and eventually needs a transplant. The death of a child is always heartbreaking, especially of one so young who still manages to touch the lives of so many. What ensues is the struggles this father faces with our healthcare system. Yes, our healthcare system is deeply flawed
Feb 26, 2012 Wayong rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Immortal Bird is, ultimately, a book about the love of a father for the indomitable spirit of his son.

Normally, if I read the above description, I would have little interest in reading that memoir. However, the child (the Immortal Bird) was so unique, intense & exuded such a fighting spirit (despite all the medical & physical challenges he had), that he held my interest & had me rooting for him.

At times, the description of the father's frustration & struggles bordered on the mor
Mar 04, 2012 Marnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 30, 2012 Ann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this family memoir written by a father about his wonderful, talented and gifted son. Damon is born with a congenital heart defect, develops complications, and eventually needs a heart transplant, which he doesn't survive b/c they misdiagnose rejection of the heart instead of an infection. I got a great idea of who Damon is and how wonderful he was, but one of my struggles in reading the book was over how much unacknowledged privilege this particular family had. Damon visited spe ...more
probably more like two & a half stars, but that's the magic of these books about sick or dying kids. you feel bad marking them down too much. especially when you are pregnant & probably shouldn't even be reading about sick or dying kids in the first place.

doron weber's son damon was born with a heart defect. he was missing a valve, so his blood wasn't being oxygenated properly & his heart struggled to pump blood efficiently. additionally, several of his organs were on the wrong side
Nov 24, 2012 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘The Immortal Bird’ leaves you exhausted, but it must be read

I’ve never been in a train wreck, but I think the way I felt as I was finishing reading Doron Weber’s “Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir” surely must be close to that: Shaken, angry and, admittedly, in tears.

“The Immortal Bird” is about a family in crisis, specifically how a father (Doron) deals with the serious heart ailment of his oldest son (Damon, or D-Man as he calls his son throughout). Damon is born without the ventricle that route
Jun 17, 2012 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I became more engrossed in this book than I have in any books for years. I finished it about a month ago and it is still with me. A true story about a teenage boy fighting a heart defect and the father who adores him. I was sucked in completely. For one, the writing is excellent. Second, the love the father has for Damon is truly humbling, He should have an honorary medical degree for the amount of medical research he does as Damon's advocate. Third, I was so captivated by the culture they expos ...more
Jan 12, 2012 Bobby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I knew how this was going to end and hesitated to even read it, even though I won it through the "giveaway" program. But i figured if Doron Weber was brave enough to write it, I needed to honor his son, Damon, and read it. So glad I did. An unimaginable story of not loss, but strength. There are so many precious moments that I don't want to divulge masses of the story but I have to share my most poignant part. Near the end there is a moment when Damon, who is now 16, climbs into his father's lap ...more
Fran Connelly
This was a poignant story, but it made me think about all the families with children who are dying who do NOT have a lot of money at their disposal and cannot afford one tenth of the care Damon was able to receive. I feel badly for the writer because he loses his son, but he is a little narcissistic. This family clearly had lots of money--yearly vacations in Scotland, a second home, eating out and a big house in Brooklyn--and the gift of good health care. The fact that Damon's doctors were negli ...more
Jun 25, 2013 Barry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Julie Smith (Knitting and Sundries)
This review first appeared on my blog:

The title of this book is taken from Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale", which is appropriate, as this is a father's ode to his talented son which also includes excerpts from his son's blog.

Damon Weber is a smart, creative, funny teen who was born with a malformed heart that was corrected by surgery when he was young. By the time he is 14, however, he is still only 5' 6" tall and not growing, having been diagnosed with PLE
Lori L (She Treads Softly)
Immortal Bird by Doron Weber is a father's tribute to his son, Damon, who died too early. Damon was born on August 8, 1988 with a congenital heart defect that required two open heart surgeries (the Fontan procedure) when he was a baby. Years later, a month after 9/11, it becomes clear to his vigilant and hyper-alert parents that Damon is not thriving and something else may be wrong. Damon has PLE, protein losing enteropathy.

After exhaustive medical checkups and intensive research by Weber, all
Amanda Kelley
Jan 10, 2012 Amanda Kelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
I received an Advanced Reader's Copy of Immortal Bird from Simon & Schuster publishing company. So naturally I made this book a top priority and I finished it within 3 days of starting. I knew that it would be a hard book to read but I am very happy to have received it and read about Damon's Story. Disclaimer: This review is my honest thoughts. Receiving this free ARC had nothing to do with how I read or thought of this memoir.

Damon, Doron and the rest of his family went through something I
Lori Wilson
Mar 05, 2012 Lori Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Initially, I was afraid to read this book as it dealt with a frightening subject; the death of a child. This family has the resources to be able to do just about anything to help their son fight the heart problems he was born with. The boy's father learns everything he can about his son's condition to the point where he often knows more than the medical staff treating him. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has a chronic medical condition requiring many different doctors and hospit ...more
Alice Meloy
This is a beautifully-written story of a boy's life, written by his
father (who happens to be a professional writer). It chronicles the 16
years of Damon's life, from when he was born without a left ventricle,
through numerous operations and procedures and finally a heart
transplant, to his death as a result of an infection. Lots of medical
detail that shows how obsessed (in a good way) his parents were with
his health. Good description of how his family ( parents and two
younger siblings) functioned d
Nov 25, 2011 Rose rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I knew what this book was going to do to me-I'm nursing the mother of all headaches from crying for half an hour over the last chapter- and yet I'm glad I read this story. Despite the ache in my heart when I finished it I'm glad to have read about this family. Doron Weber wrote a heartbreaking, important recount of his son's ordeal living with a heart condition I won't ever forget. After reading the story you can't help but feel like you've been put through the ringer emotionally but it's a stor ...more
Jun 19, 2012 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“ So I gird myself and clutch my firstborn even more fervently in my arms. I will draw deeper from my own well, rely even less on others, and spare no exertion as I scour the earth in search of a cure for Damon”.

Damon Weber was born with a congenital heart defect, that required surgery. He remained healthy until his early teens, when he suddenly came down with a life-threatening illness, related to his earlier heart condition. Damon was a smart, engaging, supremely talented boy.
This is his story
Nov 20, 2011 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I experienced so many emotions while reading this book, and I strongly suggest that others read it too. I received this book through the First Reads program on Goodreads, and I am so glad I was chosen. The book was sad, beautiful, inspiring, and a reminder that life is precious. This family struggled so much through a horrendous ordeal, and this book was a father's outlet for his family's pain. I am beyond horrified by the hospital managing the care of this child, and I finished the book very an ...more
Apr 18, 2012 Michelle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to rate this book - on one hand I blew through it in two days because I was interested in the story and appreciated the pacing. Yet like many others who gave this a low rating, I got fed up with all the name dropping and bragging. By the end, it was Enough Already! That the father believed he was more knowledgeable than ALL of the doctors on his son's case was irritating. I was mad when the father talked about how the medical bills were piling up, his wife quit her job due to stress an ...more
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