Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Truth About Sparrows, by Marian Hale

Marian Hale
ISBN: 0-8050-7584-4
Young Adult
Book #07-008

Sadie Wynn is very happy with her life in Missouri. When she learns that her father is planning to move the whole family to Texas to find better opportunities in the midst of the Great Depression, Sadie immediately begins scheming to find a way back to her old home. She misses her best friend Wilma, whose family moved to California for the same reasons the Wynns moved, and is upset that her letters to Wilma have gone unanswered. Meanwhile, Sadie begins to see her family in a new light.

Marian Hale gifts young readers with a family that is strong and loving. Although Sadie's father's faith may not be conventional, Sadie marvels that he can always find a Bible verse for her to study that applies directly to whatever is happening in her life. Sadie's mother is fond of saying that people can see what is on the inside of others, and Sadie wonders if that means they can see her doubts and selfishness. Sadie's father is clever and ingenious, able to build things out of wood with very little scrap left over, and coming up with a way to drive the family car. The bond between Mr. and Mrs. Wynn is truly special, particularly as readers learn more about Sadie's father and his personal challenges.

In terms of Depression era history, the Wynns fall somewhere in the middle of experiences. They give up their relatively nice home and furniture to seek a better life somewhere more promising. Although their diet is rather unvaried, they never seem to be truly hungry. Sadie witnesses firsthand the depths to which deprivation has taken others she encounters through the course of the novel, and their misfortune opens her eyes to the bounty within her own life, while simultaneously strengthening her resolve to work her way back to Missouri.

Sadie's new friend Dollie, a cheerful redhead, guides her through life on the Texas coast, helping her to get a job in the shrimp factory and showing her the ropes in Sadie's new school. Unfortunately, Sadie is so focused on her promise that she and Wilma will always be best friends that she is unable to make room for Dollie. Dollie's elder brother, Davis, shows some interest in Sadie until Sadie says something so cruel that she realizes she's as bad as the girl at school who's been tormenting Sadie and Dollie. Sadie's concern for a homeless man (whom she calls Mr. Sparrow) eventually is the key to Sadie's epiphany about friendship and love for one's fellow man.

THE TRUTH ABOUT SPARROWS is a lovely book by first-time author Hale. Young readers will find it easy to relate to Sadie and her concerns. Although this book features a female protagonist, the boys in Sadie's life will keep young men engrossed in the story. THE TRUTH ABOUT SPARROWS is a new classic.

No comments: