Is there a way back? When you've spent how many years hiding in the cubbie in your kindergarten class and hiding in your own head believing you are a bird who can fly, fly away from all the confusing, overwhelming moments of everyday life with other people, can you really, really find a way back?
Sparrow, eighth grader, is lost. She's a shy African American girl and she feels so out of place around the other kids at her school, especially in her cafeteria. She didn't learn all the social skills as she grew up. Her mother does IT for a bank and expects everything to be neatly in its place including her daughter. Sparrow can't reach her. Her mother doesn't seem to try to reach back. Then the day comes when Mrs. Wexler, the school librarian, the only one who "gets' Sparrow and who doesn't let her be invisible has an accident. That's it for Sparrow and she turns to the safety of the place inside her head which sends her flying and lands her in the hospital with a diagnosis of suicide attempt.
This story gets inside Sparrow's head beautifully. We feel her fragility and her fears. They remind us of our own. You can't read this book without rooting for Sparrow because she is us and we need to believe we can belong and we can fit in. The awkwardness so many of us feel about our selves has been brought into the light here and is portrayed and made real in a way that makes us feel seen, understood and even cherished.
With the support of her therapist Sparrow's world is about to become a rock music camp. In this completely new place surrounded by strangers, many of whom seem to already know each other, can Sparrow let herself be seen? Can she slip the hoodie down? Can she come out from behind the bushes where all the cigarette butts tell a story of others who have hidden there too? Can she figure out how to be more like Spike, her lesbian roommate, who has a friend in every room on the hall?
Crafted from hope, insight and sensitivity.... all the things we need so desperately especially as we navigate the lovely world of high school...but even beyond those years.... this is a beautiful story of a soul that deserves love and understanding and acceptance and is so, so afraid to risk. Not too heavy. Not too light. It may just save a life.
272 pages 978-1338032598 Ages 12 and up
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
Sparrow has always had a difficult time making friends. She would always rather have stayed home on the weekends with her mother, an affluent IT Executive at a Manhattan bank, reading, or watching the birds, than playing with other kids. And that's made school a lonely experience for her. It's made LIFE a lonely experience.
But when the one teacher who really understood her -- Mrs. Wexler, the school librarian, a woman who let her eat her lunch in the library office rather than hide in a bathroom stall, a woman who shared her passion for novels and knew just the ones she'd love -- is killed in a freak car accident, Sparrow's world unravels and she's found on the roof of her school in an apparent suicide attempt.
With the help of an insightful therapist, Sparrow finally reveals the truth of her inner life. And it's here that she discovers an outlet in Rock & Roll music...---from the publisher