Starting a new book has a sense of beginning a new journey where you don’t know the trail. You get to explore a new place, a new story, and meet new people. Better yet, you can do it all from your house, curled up with a blanket and a cup of tea (I’d recommend a nice Oolong for this issue). So, set some water to boil, go find a warm fleece blanket and make sure you have a good reading light handy because here is a book I think everyone should read.
“Not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without God knowing it. You are more valuable than a sparrow.”
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
This book has been described as “an enigma wrapped inside a mystery” by Publisher’s Weekly. In 2016, a signal is detected coming from a far off planet. The signal is beautiful music in an unknown language and the world takes notice. A crew talented individuals is put together to be sent on a mission to investigate. The story then jumps between the departure of the mission and 2060 when one of the crew members sent to investigate, a Jesuit linguist Father Emilio Sandoz, returns to Earth in disgrace, broken both emotionally and physically. The story of the mission from Father Sandoz perspective is given piece by piece as he struggles with personal guilt and faith itself. When the full story is finally revealed it is not what the reader expected to find.
I found this book through an English class I took through ComCont’d: “Daniel’s Book Club” >> munity College of Denver almost four years ago and I really disliked this book. I picked it back up a year ago because I learned it had a sequel and re-read it and found my perspective on the book had changed drastically. The characters in this story are vibrant and diverse. Russell uses her education as a paleoanthropologist to make the two species living on the planet Rakhat, the Runa and Jana’ata, realistic and relatable for any audience. The complex society of Rakhat is also incredibly unique, which plays into the decisions the characters make throughout the book, only to later find out their assumptions were wrong.
This book is heavy with philosophical and scientific quandaries which make for a very dense but rewarding read. This book explores the tragedy trying to do good with good intentions, but causing harm nonetheless.