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H is for Hawk Summary

H is for Hawk is the story of a woman named Helen, whose experience training a wild falcon helps her work her way through depression and come to terms with her father’s death. Helen has been a falconer for several years when her father’s sudden death sends her in a downward spiral, and in an attempt to deal with the emotional upset, she drives to Scotland and adopts a ten-week-old goshawk, a specific type of falcon known to be exceptionally wild and difficult to train.

Over the course of raising the bird, Helen comes to identify with it, and later, she retreats from the world and feels as if she is becoming a hawk herself. As Helen learns to communicate with the bird, to read its body language and understand its emotions, her attachment to the goshawk turns to obsession. She withdraws from the world and loses her ability to communicate comfortably with people. As Helen bonds with the goshawk and hunts with her, however, she gains a new understanding of life and begins to work through her unhappiness. Through the bird’s perseverance and strength, Helen gains those qualities herself. In the process of raising the goshawk, Helen experiences an emotional transformation. She grapples with turmoil, gains an understanding of happiness, accepts her father’s death, and learns the complexities of love and loss.