Friday, September 21, 2012
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Source: Publisher (c/o author) for review (Thanks Milkweed & Molly!)
In the summer of 1926, sixteen-year-old Garnet Richardson is sent to a lake resort to escape the polio epidemic in the city. She dreams of indulging her passion for ornithology and visiting the famous new amusement park--a summer of fun before she returns for her final year of high school, after which she’s expected to marry a nice boy and settle into middle-class homemaking. But in the country, Garnet finds herself under the supervision of equally oppressive guardians--her father’s wealthy cousin and the matron’s stuck-up daughter. Only a liberating job an intense, secret relationship, and a deep faith in her own fierce heart can save her from the suffocating boredom of traditional femininity.Review
When a book manages to successfully combine historical details, scientific terminology, interesting characters and an arresting story, you just know (if you're me anyway) that it's going to end up being absolutely brilliant. This was exactly what I thought of Silhouette of a Sparrow - it was brilliant and enchanting and I enjoyed it quite a lot. Molly Beth Griffin did a superb job combining these elements into one cohesive, easy to read tale.
My favorite thing about the book is definitely the setting, both in terms of the decade (the 20s) and the place (the lake resort). I was thinking about how much I'd love to visit the lake resort and spend a few weeks there, exploring the library, the hat stop, the surrounding area and (most definitely) the amusement park. The details of the setting were beautifully pointed out, and it made me quite nostalgic for this particular time and place that I had never even experienced.
Garnet, in my opinion, is one pretty awesome character. I love that she's quirky for someone of that era, while still retaining qualities that would make her relatable to a typical girl her age. She loves her family a lot, for instance, and is willing to do just about anything for them. But Garnet's independent streak also comes out in this novel, which is really what sets her apart for me. She is fascinated by birds; she loves to read and learn about them, observe them, and constantly cuts out silhouettes in their shape. She also enjoys working at the hat shop, a summer job she eventually picks up in a show of independence.
One of the best things about Garnet is that she spent the summer apart from her parents exploring various aspects of her personality and beliefs, and testing them out for herself. I thought this personal exploration into what she wanted to do and think and feel was very interesting, as well as being central to this novel.
The story from this book is absolutely lovely. It's not just about escaping for the summer or new adventures in a place you've never been. It's also about what it means to grow up, and discovering the truths about who you are and what you'd want on your own. Silhouette of a Sparrow is pretty darn awesome, and I highly recommend this debut YA novel from Molly Beth Griffin.