I happen to love reading stories that, while not always realistic, bring to light universal human lessons in beautiful and memorable ways. One of my favorite books is The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho, and Sparrow reminded me of that story as I was reading it. Timothy Sperling is the main character, and he often feels alone as he observes the people of his town from his bedroom window high above. But one careless wish makes everything change, and Timothy must figure out how to fix what he started. Elegant writing and lovely descriptions give readers a clear idea of what is happening in Timothy’s world even as the circumstances may not ever truly occur. This was a quick but profound read and is a good fit for readers in middle school and above. Please see my full review below!
High above the town of Candela, a young boy named Timothy Sperling awaits the return of his mother who has been gone for the past seven years. When her voice awakens him from a deep slumber, he discovers a shooting star falling from the heavens and he prepares a wish, just as she has taught him to do. But instead of wishing for what he most desires, Timothy wishes instead for snow. The next day, he awakens to the unprecedented arrival of a snowstorm that is initially embraced by those in town; but after weeks of relentless accumulation, something must be done. It is up to Timothy to attempt to set the world to rights again before his beloved town is swallowed forever.
This beautifully written short story investigates the mysteries of the world through a unique and thoughtful lens. While Timothy comes from a family of ornithologists whose focus is on science, the Our Lady of Undying Hope church emerges at the center of the town’s activities. The word ‘marvelous’ is placed at choice moments throughout the story, connecting readers to the many things humans have yet to fully understand about life’s myriad complexities. Elegant descriptions place readers easily within Timothy's world, and they paint vivid mental pictures for the reader as the story progresses.
Though the primary action of the story takes place in Timothy’s present, the book shifts in time back to when his Uncle Morris was young and the family was beginning to find itself in the trouble Timothy has lived with for years. This design helps the important moments of the plot unfold in careful and intentional ways, keeping readers wondering exactly how and when the two angles will converge. While Timothy himself is not learning the truth of his family’s past, the reader collects details and information that make the rest of the plot become clear. Additionally, occasional segments speak directly from the omniscient narrator to the reader, which permit moments of reflection throughout the narrative.
This charming story will appeal to a wide range of ages, even though its intended audience is middle grade. Thoughtfully presented, each reader will find something compelling within the story itself, whether it is read aloud or silently to themselves. No matter how old one is, wishes do have the power of coming true under the right circumstances, and in this instance, one wish is all it takes to reunite a broken community. Filled with metaphor, this is a story that will have readers considering events in their own lives as a reflection of the events that take place in Timothy’s. Sparrow is a well-crafted, charming story for readers of all ages to enjoy.
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