I stayed up late Friday night (or rather, until early Saturday morning) to finish this amazing book. I probably could have finished sooner, but I was torn between reading non-stop to learn “what happens next” or slowing down to assimilate and savor the questions raised, to prolong the experience of a genuinely engrossing read, and to postpone the bittersweet experience of turning the last page.
I have never been a fan of sci-fi, so—as that is how I’d often heard “The Sparrow” classified—it was a personal challenge to select this book for myself, as well as to propose it to the group. In retrospect, I think the sci-fi classification is far too limiting. "The Sparrow" is much, much more than the tale of a 21st-century scientific mission to an alien planet. The journey is also a mission in the spiritual sense, and that brings incredible richness and depth to Russell’s story. Add suspense, mysticism, adventure, anthropology, ethics, inter-personal relationships, technology, potent symbolism…this book offers much at many levels.
I usually keep a little notebook handy to jot down notes, quotes, and questions when I am reading a book for discussion or review, and I filled pages and pages for “The Sparrow.” Just two (of many) that beg discussion are:
“Have you ever wondered about the story of Cain?...He made his sacrifice in good faith. Why did God refuse it?”
--Emilio Sandoz, a Jesuit priest, to Brother Edward, another Jesuit
“…that is where it (faith) falls apart for me! What sticks in my throat is that God gets the credit (for the miraculous cure) but never the blame (for the failure to save).”
--Anne Edwards, a physician, to Emilio Sandoz
The first and only reference to the sparrow of the title comes just four pages from the end of this 405 page book. It is powerful moment.
Has anyone else read “The Sparrow?” Care to comment?