June 9th, 2010

artsygold

The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell

In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God. --Aeschylus

I just finished Mary Doria Russell's novel The Sparrow. It's every bit as brilliant as I'd been told, but is a much different book than I'd heard. It's not a first-contact story (well, it sort of is, but only in the sense that this is part of the plot; look at the structure and a different theme takes precedence). It's a powerful portrait of the experience of spiritual betrayal.

It's also fairly brutal. I'm not sure I could recommend it for most people, in good conscience. But it is mightily well-written, and you'll never forget these characters once you have encountered them.

(Has anyone else read it? I feel the need to discuss, but do not want to put spoilers in the post itself. Comments are fair game.)