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The Symbol

I’ve seen them in Alaska, Yellowstone, Maine. Always alone— their singularity capturing so much of the spirit they epitomize. Usually they’re roosting on the uppermost branch of the tallest tree in the area. Occasionally I’ve spotted one swooping into a landing or launching powerfully, improbably into the air. The sight, for me, is always thrilling—much the same way that spotting a breaching whale is thrilling. But whereas whales belong to the sea, which belongs to no one, the Bald Eagle, at least in my mind (and probably many other minds), represents America. Even when I saw one in northern Canada—where I know they are plentiful—I thought to myself, “What’s he doing up here, far from home?”

When I was a child I was told the Bald Eagle was on the verge of extinction; we had all but destroyed our national symbol. Yet they came back, and a decade ago were removed from the endangered and threatened list.

Perhaps because I have only ever seen a Bald Eagle in wild and majestic places, my conception of them is linked with all that is so good about America. These sightings invariably fill me with a rush of awe, a swelling of gratitude, a sprig of hope.

When, very recently, my son saw his first Bald Eagle on the Missouri River in Montana during a father-son canoe trip, his one word reaction captured everything I have always felt, not only about the Bald Eagle, but about the wilder parts of our country.

“Whoa,” he said softly.

“I know,” I whispered back.

It felt good to pass something down.

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Tuesday, March 28 at 7pm
Barnes & Noble Union Square
In conversation with Gayle Forman
33 E. 17th St., New York, NY 10003

Wednesday, March 29 at 7pm
Barnes & Noble
Vernon Hills Shopping Center
680 Post Rd., Eastchester, NY 10583

Thursday, March 30 at 7pm
Books & Greetings
271 Livingston St., Northvale, NJ 07647

Saturday, April 1
Texas Teen Book Con | Houston, TX

Sunday, April 2
Alamo Drafthouse | Austin, TX

Monday, April 3 at 7pm
Books, Inc Opera Plaza
Not Your Mother’s Book Club
601 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA 94107

Tuesday, April 4 at 7pm
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA 94925

Wednesday, April 5 at 8pm
Live Talks LA
In conversation with Pico Iyer
Ann and Jerry Moss Theatre, New Roads School
3131 Olympic Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404

Thursday, April 6 at 7pm
Elliott Bay Books
1521 10th Ave., Seattle, WA 98122

Friday, April 7 at 7pm
Powell’s Books
3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd., Beaverton, OR 97005

Sunday, April 9 at 5pm
Politics & Prose
5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008

Monday, April 10 at 7pm
Boswell Books
2559 N. Downer Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53211

Tuesday, April 11 at 7pm
The Book Stall at Chestnut Court
In conversation with Betsy Bird
811 Elm St., Winnetka, IL 60093

Wednesday, April 12 at 7pm
Talk of the Stacks Series
Hennepin County Library
Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN 55401

Thursday, April 13 at 6:30pm
Parnassus Books
Hillsboro Plaza Shopping Center
3900 Hillsboro Pike #14, Nashville, TN 37215

Tuesday, April 18 at 6:30pm
Rainy Day Books
At Woodneath Library
8900 N. Flintock Rd., Kansas City, MO 64157

Wednesday, April 19 at 7pm
St. Louis County Library
With The Novel Neighbor
1640 S. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63131

Thursday, April 20 at 7pm
Georgia Center for the Book
With Little Shop of Stories
Dekalb County Public Library
215 Sycamore St., Decatur, GA 30030

Friday, April 21 at 7pm
Books & Books
265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables, FL 33134

Tuesday, April 25 at 7pm
Barnes & Noble
Market Fair, 3535 US-1 #400, Princeton, NJ 08540

Wednesday, April 26 at 7pm
Brookline Booksmith
279 Harvard St., Brookline, MA 02446

Monday, May 1 at 7pm
Darien Library
In conversation with Dani Shapiro
1441 Post Rd., Darien, CT 06820