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June 15, 2018

Looking Back - The Sparrow

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.



The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Science Fiction
1996 Fawcett Columbine
Finished in October 1997
Rating: 5/5 (Excellent!)

Publisher's Blurb:

The Sparrow, an astonishing literary debut, takes you on a journey to a distant planet and to the center of the human soul. It is the story of a charismatic Jesuit priest and linguist, Emilio Sandoz, who leads a twenty-first-century scientific mission to a newly discovered extraterrestrial culture. Sandoz and his companions are prepared to endure isolation, hardship and death, but nothing can prepare them for the civilization they encounter, or for the tragic misunderstanding that brings the mission to a catastrophic end. Once considered a living saint, Sandoz returns alone to Earth physically and spiritually maimed, the mission's sole survivor--only to be accused of heinous crimes and blamed for the mission's failure.

In clean, effortless prose and with captivating flashes of wit, Russell creates memorable characters who navigate a world of exciting ideas and disturbing moral issues without ever losing their humanity or humor. Both heartbreaking and triumphant, and rich in literary pleasures great and small, The Sparrow is a powerful and haunting book. It is a magical novel, as literate as The Name of the Rose, as farsighted as The Handmaid's Tale and as readable as The Thorn Birds.

My Original Notes (1997):

Wow! Excellent book!! This is one I plan on reading again. It was fun to read my first "sci-fi" novel and enjoy it as much as I did. I loved the extrapolation of technology. The characters were very likeable and I felt so sad when some died. A very thought-provoking book. Suspenseful. Funny. I'd love to see a movie of this. Kind of reminds me of Contact.

My Current Thoughts:

What can I possibly say about this amazing novel?! I've read it twice and it was just as wonderful as the first time around. I met the author at a book conference in Cleveland in 1998 and she was delightful and funny and so sweet to our small book club, all of whom were quite taken with the book and eager to talk to her about the characters and the possibility of a film. This is a keeper and one I'll read again and again. 




Click here to read my 2008 review of The Sparrow.

8 comments:

  1. Yes, this one is definitely a good one. I remember trying to explain the premise to my husband while I was reading it. It is a bit odd - ha! Still sad I missed that conference. Did you ever read the sequel? I don't think I did.

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    1. Kay, it's certainly a book that is hard to describe. Sci-fi with a backdrop of religion and philosophy? I'm sorry you missed that conference, too. We had such a good time and I have great memories. Yes, I read the sequel and I'm glad I did if only to find out a few answers... but I didn't think it was nearly as good as The Sparrow. In a way, it was disappointing, but maybe because nothing could come close to The Sparrow.

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  2. I wonder why a movie hasn't been made of this book.

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    1. Deb, I would love to see it on the big screen and I remember how many of us were thrilled when Antonio Banderas bought the movie rights. That was a long, long time ago. Now, you can see what's going on with it here. Not a lot, sadly.

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  3. That is wonderful that you were able to meet the author! That book was really shocking for me. I read it with a book group a long time ago and at first I didn't like it but the more I thought about it the more and more I appreciated it. I think it was just too out there for me at first to really appreciate! I would love to read this one again.

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    1. Iliana, she was so much fun at this small conference. She has a marvelous sense of humor and was so kind to spend so much time talking to all of us, as a group and individually. I hope you enjoy the book a little more with a second reading. I know I'll read it again sometime in the future. I think it will stand the test of time, for the most part.

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  4. If you ever decide to read it a third time, I'd happily read it again with you. What a surprise it was for me and what a heartbreaking read.

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    1. Lisa, I'll try to remember to let you know! If you see it as a current read in my sidebar, go for it! Yes, it was a pleasant surprise and heartbreaking. I love it.

      Are you freezing out there? I hear Nebraska is a bit chilly on this first day of summer.

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