Book Review: Avenging the Owl

Sep 8, 2017

This is KLCC.  I’m Connie Bennett, Director of Eugene Public Library, with a book review of “Avenging the Owl” by Melissa Hart.

A couple of years ago, I enjoyed reviewing the memoir “Wild Within,” in which Melissa Hart tells of being transplanted from California to Eugene, then working as a volunteer at Cascade Raptor Center while falling in love and creating her family.   Her new offering, “Avenging the Owl,” covers similar territory in a lively, well-crafted book for middle graders.

Our protagonist is seventh grader Solo Hahn.  (As he constantly has to explain, his mom was a big time Star Wars fan.)  Solo, an aspiring film writer who loved surfing the California waves with his buddies, is now stuck in a stuffy trailer in Oregon.  His parents are attempting a life reset due to his father’s mental illness and attempted suicide.  Even worse, the one saving grace of his new home – his pet kitten – is killed by a wild owl.  Now he’s stuck doing community service at the raptor center.

Hart’s writing, in Solo’s first-person voice, rings true.  It’s perfectly paced for this multi-layered coming of age story.  The lessor characters – Solo’s parents, the neighboring family, the raptor center staff – are realistically flawed, and generous, and human.  Even Solo’s sworn enemy, the owl, has something to teach him.  Though the Oregon town is never named, the detailed descriptions of streets, raptor center – and even the public library – will be well familiar to anyone who knows Eugene.

In the end, Hart’s intense and moving tale of redemption and hope satisfies readers with a surprisingly moving conclusion.  Or as Solo would say, in one of his screen plays, “Fade Out.”

This is KLCC.  I’m Connie Bennett, reviewing “Avenging the Owl” by Melissa Hart.