Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Hummingbird by Stephen P. Kiernan

The Hummingbird by Stephen P. Kiernan

Death is a part of life.  Everything that lives will suffer a death. The Hummingbird is a book about death but most importantly it is a book about the human experience, about our life which is full of war and peace and the mistakes we make and the apologies we give.

There are three intertwined stories within The Hummingbird. Nurse Birch is a hospice nurse whose current patient is a retired history professor named Barclay Reed.  His area of expertise is the the Pacific campaign of WWII and he has written a book that remains unpublished about a little known incident that takes place in Oregon during the war.

As he lay dying of kidney cancer, Barclay asks Deborah Birch to read to him from his book, The Sword, and to decide if it true or not.  So the end of every chapter contains part of The Sword.

When Deb leaves work she returns home to her husband, Michael who is a three tour Iraqi veteran, dealing with PTSD and some serious anger and depression issues.  He hasn't touched her physically since he's been home and she is worried sick about him and the state of their marriage.

The Hummingbird is a emotional, thought provoking and beautiful novel.  I was reminded of the thoughtful work hospice nurses and workers do to help our loved ones pass into death and help us grieve our loss in a beautiful, loving way. Death can be beautiful, with a room full of loved ones surrounding the bed, singing and laughing, holding hands with their dying relative.  But not everyone
gets a beautiful death.

I frequently thought of my grandparents while reading this and was reminded of their impact on my life.  My grandfather was stationed in Oregon before he was sent to England to join the Europe campaign during WWII.  My grandmothers were both amazing influences in my life.  I miss them all so much.

The Hummingbird will make you think deeply about the world we live in, the wars we engage in, the stories that are built or erased by intention or human error.  You will rejoice in being alive, hope for a beautiful death and cry for the loss of your loved ones.  The Hummingbird will make your heart flutter with hope.

The Hummingbird teaches us that every human life is valuable and we all have a powerful story to tell.  We just need someone to listen and understand.

Disclaimer:  I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.