Book Review: The Sparrow

The Sparrow
By Mary Doria Russell

My Edition:
Paperback, 483 pages
2016, Ballantine, 20th Anniversary Edition
ISBN: 9780449912553

When extraterrestrial life is picked up via satellite, a group of friends and colleagues lead by a Jesuit priest with a knack for learning languages, set off to make contact with the residents of a foreign planet. At first glance, the mission appears to be a success, until things begin to go wrong and after a series of social mishaps everything falls apart. The lone survivor, Emilio Sandoz, must now face judgment from his superiors and peers in Rome and tell the story of the tragedy that befell the party.

The less you know about the plot of this book going in, the better. I don’t think there’s any way my review will do this beautiful book justice, but I’ll give it a whirl.

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Book Review: Bridge to Terabithia

The Bridge to Terabithia
By Katherine Paterson

My Edition:
Paperback (40th Anniversary), 179 pages
1977, Harper
ISBN: 9780064401845

Jess Aarons works hard on his family farm – with his father working long hours and his four sisters nearly useless, Jess is constantly harangued by his mother. To distract himself, he’s been practicing running and hopes to be the fastest runner in 5th grade. When Leslie Burke, the new girl in town, easily beats him in a race, he finds he’s not nearly as fast as he thought, but more importantly, he finds the beginning of a strong friendship.

UGH THIS BOOK.

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Mini Review: The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy

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The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy
By Rachel Joyce

My Edition:
ARC paperback, 370 pages
2015, Random House
ISBN: 9780812996678 (hardcover)

I received this book for free from LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.

In The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Harold learns that his old co-worker Queenie Hennessy is suffering from a terminal illness, so he decides to walk the length of England to visit her. Now readers hear Queenie’s side of the story as she deals with the fear of what Harold may think when he arrives and the memories she relives as she waits for him. She decides to write a letter to him, detailing the events of their past and some of her life in the present. 

It’s been quite some time since I read Harold Fry and I almost wish I’d  gone back and re-read it first. But I remembered the basic outline and so I set off on Queenie’s part of the journey. And what a journey it was! While Queenie was the motivation for Harold’s journey, she wasn’t much of a presence in his book. This time we hear from her directly, both about her current life in the hospice, battling  her illness, and about her past with Harold and his son, David. Sadly, I can’t remember if there was much talk of David in the last book, but he’s very present in this book and gives more light to Harold’s character. There’s a lot more to Harold and Queenie’s past than Harold ever realized, and Queenie details it all in her long letter to Harold.

There are also several other people in the hospice with Queenie, and while Joyce doesn’t give a lot of detail about their lives, they all felt very real. Suddenly Harold’s  journey doesn’t just have Queenie waiting, but the whole hospice. Looking back into her past, Queenie reveals the difficult times she’s been through, as well as her deep love for Harold.

I won’t say too much about the plot, as it intertwines with the first book, and I think that you should just read both. The short chapters made this book easy to breeze through; you know, one of those books where you say “I’ll just read one more chapter” and then you realize you’re halfway through the book? And the ending! THE ENDING! Maybe I’m overly emotional (I totally am), but this book gave me a good cry. I always appreciate when a writer creates something with enough emotion to actually affect me like that. Props to Ms. Joyce.

I found a number of meaningful quotes in this book, and I’ll leave you with this one, “When a thing is taken away, you see more clearly  what it brought to your life.”

+ Vocabulary alert +
anodyne – not likely to offend or upset anyone
teetotalism – practice of complete abstinence from alcoholic drinks

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The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy book is an excellent companion to Harold Fry and it added back story I didn’t know I was truly missing until I read this. There was a lot of emotion in this book and personally I felt it pretty deeply. I won both these books from LibraryThing and I’m grateful, as they’re not typically something I would pick up – I would definitely be missing out if I’d never read them!