The Life List of Adrian Mandrick

A Novel

The Life List of Adrian Mandrick

“With a birder’s eye for detail, White takes us on [Adrian Mandrick’s] painful, near death descent… [her] life-affirming conclusion reminds us that endangered species aren’t the only ones that need to change and adapt in order to survive.”—The New York Times Book Review

H Is for Hawk meets Grief Is the Thing with Feathers in this evocative debut novel about a pill-popping anesthesiologist and avid birder who embarks on a quest to find one of the world’s rarest species, allowing nothing to get in his way—until he’s forced to confront his obsessions and what they’ve cost him.

Adrian Mandrick seems to have his life in perfect order with an excellent job in a Colorado hospital, a wife and two young children he loves deeply, and a serious passion for birding. His life list comprises 863 species correctly identified and cataloged—it is, in fact, the third longest list in the North American region.

But Adrian holds dark secrets about his childhood—secrets that threaten to consume him after he’s contacted by his estranged mother, and subsequently relapses into an addiction to painkillers. In the midst of his downward spiral, the legendary birder with the region’s second-longest life list dies suddenly, and Adrian receives an anonymous tip that could propel him to the very top: the extremely rare Ivory-billed Woodpecker, spotted deep in the swamplands of Florida’s Panhandle.

Combining sharp, elegant prose with environmental adventure, The Life List of Adrian Mandrick is a poignant, engaging story that heralds the arrival of a new literary talent.
  • Atria Books | 
  • 288 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501174322 | 
  • April 2018
List Price
AU$ 11.99

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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Life List of Adrian Mandrick includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Chris White. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Adrian Mandrick seems to have the perfect life—a loving wife and family, an accomplished career as an anesthesiologist, and a serious passion for birding. But Adrian holds dark secrets about his childhood and pill addiction, secrets that threaten to consume him in the wake of his estranged mother’s death and a deteriorating marriage. In the midst of this turmoil, Adrian attempts to add one more bird—the elusive Ivory-billed Woodpecker—to his “life list,” the third-longest list of bird species in North America. His quest leads him to a discovery of something far more rare: a chance to confront the past, seek forgiveness, and change his life.

Topics & Questions for Discussion

1. In the prologue, Adrian and his mother set out in a rented canoe for a day of birdwatching when they happen to come across the rare Ivory-billed Woodpecker perched in a nearby tree—if Adrian remembers correctly. How does this moment—a defining moment in Adrian’s life̵ see more

About the Author

Chris White
Photograph © Madison Williams

Chris White

Chris White is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter, with an MFA in dramatic writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her plays have been produced nationally and internationally, and her play, Rhythms, won the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play. She received an Award of Merit at the Women’s Independent Film Festival for her feature-length screenplay, Weasel in the Icebox, and her short film, Mud Lotus, was an official selection at the New Hampshire, Albany, and Cincinnati Film Festivals. White is a professor of English at DePauw University teaching creative writing. She lives near the town of Bainbridge, Indiana on Big Walnut Creek. The Life List of Adrian Mandrick is her first novel.