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
1996 Fawcett Columbine
Finished in October 1997
Rating: 5/5 (Excellent!)
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.