Mother writes book 20 years after son’s death

Mound resident JoAnn Deveny hopes her book “When Bluebirds Fly” will help grieving readers

After the death of her infant son in 1991, a Mound mother was forced to struggle through a healing process that no parent would want to experience.

JoAnn Deveny
JoAnn Deveny

On July 13, 1991, JoAnn Deveny put her 18-month-old son Billy to bed for a nap. Tragically, Billy woke from his nap, opened the door to their house and ran into a nearby lake. The death of her son that day is what led Deveny to write her recently released book “When Bluebirds Fly.”

Deveny said that she did not want to write the book as a grieving mother, but instead write a book that can help people find hope in tough times.

“It’s an inspirational memoir,” she said.

The book is something that addresses problems that a family can experience after a child’s death, including marital problems, alcoholism, gambling addictions, panic attacks, bankruptcy and the loss of faith.
The end of the book, said Deveny, is a twist ending that you would not expect unless you knew her story.
“It reads more like fiction,” she said. “It keeps the reader reading until the end result.”
Her husband, Dick, narrates parts of the book and the story includes the perspective of her and her older son, Danny. The book is titled “When Bluebirds Fly” in part from the Wizard of Oz song “Over the Rainbow,” which she sung to her son the day he died.

“When I put my son to sleep, I would normally just put him down,” she said. “He grabbed my neck and wanted me to sing him a song.”

Not only does “Over the Rainbow” include references to bluebirds, but she also said bluebirds were a part of after death signs from her son.

“I had a lot of signs from bluebirds,” she said. “Bluebirds are equated to happiness.”

Deveny said the book can help other people besides parents grieving the loss of a child. She said that the book includes comforting information for first responders who are feeling responsible for a death, children who may be feeling grief in a loss of a sibling or anybody experiencing a tragic event.

“(When Bluebirds Fly) is for anyone who wants to find light throughout darkness,” said Deveny. “This is a book that anybody can enjoy and get some inspiration from.”

The book has different dialogue in order to help provide readers with inspiration. The book also includes a “community flavor,” with references to Lake Minnetonka and Mound.

“I didn’t want it to be a misery memoir,” she said. “That’s why I added the different voices and dialogue.”

Deveny is the author of another book, titled “99 Ways to Make a Flight Attendant Fly — Off the Handle!” This book is a comedy short story collection based on her experiences as a flight attendant.

Deveny had her book launch for “When Bluebirds Fly “at the Festival of Trees event at the Gillespie Center on Nov. 9. She will be having upcoming book signings at some of the Gillespie Center holiday boutique events on certain days during the weekends of Nov. 24 through 26 and Dec. 1 through 2. She will also have a book signing at 2 p.m. on Dec. 9 at the Bookcase bookstore in Wayzata.

“When Bluebirds Fly” can be found at Jubilee Foods in Mound, The Bookcase, some airport bookstores and soon will be available at Barnes and Nobles bookstores.