Nest. Flight. Sky.: On Love and Loss, One Wing at a Time by Beth Kephart

Source: Purchased for Kindle
eBook, about 34 pages
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Nest. Flight. Sky.: On Love and Loss, One Wing at a Time by Beth Kephart illustrates how the death of the person we’re closest to — oftentimes our mother — sends us out into the world, looking for answers or at least some hope.  Letting go is never about forgetting, while our loved ones may not physically be present any more and all we have is memory — a tricky thing indeed — we have the ability to seek out meaning and hope in the miracles around us.  Anyone who has read Kephart’s books before knows that she loves birds and what they can mean and represent in all their incarnations, but this obsession with birds clearly began with the loss of her mother.

“I work in a square room, watch the world (a garden like an archipelago, a museum of flowering trees) through two wide windows.  I work early in the day, a bare bulb turned on, and I work alone.  But in the months after my mother passed away, much too early, the finches came.  They were still wearing their winter coats.  They favored the crack of dawn.  They held themselves up with the acrobatics of their wings, touched their beaks to my wide windows, and hammered.”

Kephart ties together the memories of her mother’s accident and misdiagnosed and re-diagnosed illness — without naming it because it is unnecessary to do so — with the passionate love of birds held by Genevieve Estelle Jones and Katrina van Grouw.  Like these early scientists, Kephart is exploring the enigma of birds — not so much how they continue to fly and what their eggs and nests look like — but how those former dinosaurs continue to capture the imagination and offer solace to those not too busy to pause.

Readers could imagine glorious photos or illustrations of birds sweeping across the pages, along with Kephart’s words as she remembers the best parts of her mother and the best parts of herself.  Nest. Flight. Sky.: On Love and Loss, One Wing at a Time by Beth Kephart strives to give all those who grieve the hope that there is peace, a peace that we can live with and thrive with, as long as we remember to breathe and be alive.

***This ebook memoir was published by the new venture SheBooks, which published short ebooks for women, by women.  Check out what Beth Kephart had to say.

About the Author:

Beth Kephart is the author of 10 books, including the National Book Award finalist A Slant of Sun; the Book Sense pick Ghosts in the Garden; the autobiography of Philadelphia’s Schuylkill River, Flow; the acclaimed business fable Zenobia; and the critically acclaimed novels for young adults, Undercover and House of Dance. A third YA novel, Nothing but Ghosts, is due out in June 2009. And a fourth young adult novel, The Heart Is Not a Size, will be released in March 2010. “The Longest Distance,” a short story, appears in the May 2009 HarperTeen anthology, No Such Thing as the Real World.

Kephart is a winner of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts fiction grant, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Leeway grant, a Pew Fellowships in the Arts grant, and the Speakeasy Poetry Prize, among other honors. Kephart’s essays are frequently anthologized, she has judged numerous competitions, and she has taught workshops at many institutions, to all ages. In the fall of 2009, Kephart will teach the advanced nonfiction workshop at the University of Pennsylvania.  Check out her blog.


  1. I can easily see how birds offered solace for the author. My own obsession with birds is part of my love of nature but also a form of therapy, a way to get away from it all without going far away. I’m sure I will enjoy this book.

  2. Thank you so much for telling us about it. I clicked your link and bought it.

  3. This sounds both fantastic and sad.

  4. Between your review and Beth Hoffman’s comments, I feel I must get this book. Kephart writes with so much heart, I’m sure it’s a gem.

  5. Beth Hoffman says

    I loaded this treasure on my iPad, planned to read a few pages, and then get back to work. Well … those few pages swept me into Kephart’s memoir with a force I hadn’t experienced in years. Her words and the imagery they evoked took my breath away. There were even parts that gave me the sense of magical realism, which, I believe, speaks of the mystery and transition of death. What a gem!

    • Beth: I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. I really was swept away by this one. She’s a real talent in this genre. Too hard to break away from it to do other things and to break away from the emotion of it.