Title: Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot Who’s Determined to Kill Me
Author: Jenny Gardiner
Release Date: March 16, 2010
Publisher: Simon Spotlight
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Rating: 4 out of 5
When Jenny is pregnant with her first child, her brother-in-law magnanimously bestows an African gray parrot on her and her husband. Though they are cognizant of the fact that time timing is horrible, they accept the bird lovingly into their family. Named Graycie, this is an account of the curmudgeonly, perpetually violent parrot and how she’s been integrated into Jenny and Scott’s family.
I really enjoyed Jenny Gardiner’s first book, Sleeping With Ward Cleaver, so when I heard she had a new memoir coming out, I knew I wanted to read it. However, I was a little worried – I’m not much of a pet person (I like animals, I just haven’t had once since I was a kid), so I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy an entire book about a parrot. However, I didn’t need to worry – Jenny does a great job with this book and she kept me interested from beginning to end.
I have to say kudos to Jenny for not only committing herself to Graycie, but really trying to help her and recognizing that when she acted out, it’s because Graycie was unhappy. Jenny is the first to admit she hasn’t been able to devote the time or attention necessary to make Graycie happy (though from what I gather, it would take 100% of Jenny’s attention to keep Graycie even remotely satisfied). I appreciated how she really cared about the parrot and wasn’t willing to give up, despite what she went through for Graycie.
Graycie’s antics are definitely entertaining, but this isn’t a book of random vignettes about a murderous parrot. Instead, Jenny skillfully weaves the tales of her parrot with other stories about her family. It’s a book about what has happened to Jenny’s family over the past twenty years, framed through hilarious parrot stories and anecdotes. This balance really made the book enjoyable for me.
I very much enjoyed Winging It, and recommend it even if you aren’t necessarily a pet lover. Jenny is a gifted storyteller, and her strong, confident, and wonderfully humorous voice really carries the memoir. I’m glad I gave it a chance and will definitely be looking for her future books.