Wednesday, October 7, 2009
The Sparrow - A book review
I don't read a lot of fiction anymore, I simply don't have time. Twice in the past year, however, my husband, who reads very little, has read about a book that piqued his interest on my behalf. The first was a trilogy: The Thief/The Queen of Attolia/The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner...an extremely likeable set of books, which almost my whole family has read by now. So when he suggested The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, I said sure.
The Sparrow is about a fluke discovery of music being broadcast from Alpha Centauri and the effect that has on the young man who first hears it, and on his group of friends, Anne and George, an older married couple, Sophia, a young woman who was hired to decided if Jimmy's (the young man) job could be automated and Emilio Sandoz, a priest. Later, they are joined by DW Yarbrough, another, rougher, priest, Marc and Alan.
This book fascinated me because I'm always thinking of the sacred and the profane...how we have these divine moments, these spiritual highs in the midst of our rather mundane life. This book highlights this contrast in spades. I was also fascinated because music is so intrinsically important to me, and the first contact with this species/planet was music.
In many ways, I feel this book is a must read. Anyone who likes Science Fiction, or just good fiction, or who has ever sought a touch by GOD or who has ever loved/hated GOD...in other words, everyone, would be moved to laughter and tears by this book...
Not that this is an utterly "up" experience. There is a great deal of sadness and despair in this book. There is horror and death and life and love and passion and faith and loss of faith and truth and trust and betrayal...in other words, this is a book that LIVES. It lives in your mind, it grabs onto your heart and you feel you live in the book with these amazing, nuanced people and beings. I hated to see it end...even though it was very difficult to read at the end and I sobbed my guts out at the emotion and revelations. (Oh, I have since then discovered there is a sequel).
I hesitate to say more, because I don't want to contaminate your experience with the book. But I highly recommend this to everyone...I know it's fiction, but it describes one of the longest, darkest nights of the soul that someone has ever survived.