Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson
There are two kinds of people on the planet. Hunters and prey
I thought I would be safe after my mother died. I thought I could stop searching for new places to hide. But you can’t escape what you are, what you’ve always been.
My name is Savannah Darcy Rose.
And I am still prey.
Though Savannah Rose―Sparrow to her friends and family―is a gifted ballerina, her real talent is keeping secrets. Schooled in silence by her long-dead mother, Sparrow has always believed that her lifelong creed―“I’m not the kind of girl who tells”―will make her just like everyone else: Normal. Happy. Safe. But in the aftermath of a brutal assault by her seemingly perfect boyfriend Tristan, Sparrow must finally find the courage to confront the ghosts of her past, or lose herself forever….
This book left me feeling all sorts of emotions. I’ve cried and felt such a strong emotional connection to this novel. I went into this book with an open mind. I read a review on this book and I knew I had to read it so I ordered it as soon as I finished the review! There is so much to unpack in this novel that the English major in me geeked out hard-core.
“This is my fault, my fault, all my fault. He loves me. He loves me so much. He tells me this all the time. This will pass. We’ll be fine He’ll feel terrible in a few minutes, and there will be apologies and tears and promises and kisses. I will forgive him because I love him.”
The content was heavy; I had to take break frequently to take a moment to centre myself because it hit me so hard. This book made me uncomfortable at parts, but I think that’s exactly what this author meant to do, make the reader uncomfortable when it comes to abuse. Sparrow’s friends saw all the warning signs of an abusive relationship, but they didn’t want to do anything at first. They tried to confront Sparrow but she didn’t want to hear it.
I really enjoyed the character development of Lucas and Sparrow, they seemed to flow naturally and they didn’t appear to be forced. Lucas was going through his own personal grief and trauma. How he handled everything was very realistic and I enjoyed his perspective in this novel.
“Except I didn’t know I’d carry it around with me, all the time. It’s like grief walks with you, sits beside you in calculus class, asks you to pass the salt at the dinner table.”
What I wasn’t expecting from this novel is how well-developed the characters are, and how well Jackson depicts Sparrow’s trauma and what came from her childhood experiences. Jackson gave Sparrow an unusual habit, counting and tapping. This made me think that Sparrow has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which can manifest in counting to a certain number and tapping which is the compulsive part. This made Sparrow seem more realistic of a character to me, what she was going through made my heart ache for her even more and rooted for her to pull through.
“I clench my hands together and tap my right index finger against my left hand, barely moving it so Sophie won’t see, but enough so I can still feel it. Nine times, three groups of three. I do it three times, until my breathing slows.”
The one character that I didn’t like was Sparrow’s dad. He seemed not to notice anything about Sparrow, what she was experiencing with Tristin and in her past. Jackson stated that he was busy and working all the time as he is a lawyer, but even then a dad couldn’t be that oblivious to what Sparrow was enduring. I get that he was busy with his work, but how do you completely ignore what’s happening in your own house? On the other hand, he really did seem to be oblivious to it all when Sparrow’s past came to light and they explored it in depth.
Throughout the novel there were hints at how Tristan is treated at home by his father, he has to be best athlete, he’s under a lot of pressure from his dad, and it was eluded to that his dad raises his voice to Tristan. I’m not saying that this is an excuse to how Tristan treated not only Sparrow but his past girlfriends which was also alluded to in the novel. Maybe Tristan didn’t know how to properly care or love somehow since this is how he is treated at home. I’ve taken to look at these stories more closely because of my diploma in Child and Youth Work. I like to see the factors of what makes a person more vulnerable or resilient to ordeals in their lives. I like to know how and why people treat others that are close to them and why people act in this manner.
I LOVE how Jackson brought in ballet; it added another element to the novel that worked beautifully. The addition of the ballet made this story unique and interesting to me. I have zero knowledge of ballet, so maybe I didn’t get the full experience, but I still loved it. Sparrow is an accomplished dancer, a ballet prodigy, and ballet is her entire life. She has a tight-knit group of friends until Tristan King comes along and flips her life around… and not in the good way. He begins to control her and physically hurts her. He gets made if she’s late after her ballet classes, drives her everywhere, and has to know who she’s with at all times if she doesn’t he’ll get mad.
There’s one more aspect that I want to touch upon which is the comparison of ballet. They are dancing a segment of Swan Lake for the March recital which is no coincident that the author had them dance this piece. After Sparrow’s hospitalization, she actuates herself to the Black Swan, her eyes grow dark, she refuses to speak to anyone, and she doesn’t see herself as “pure or white” or anything that’s good from before Tristan. I love how Jackson did this, once again using ballet to move the story forward and to bring more themes and depth to the characters. Relating this back to ballet felt like she did Sparrow justice and helped the reader understand Sparrow and her passions in life more.
I got a supernatural vibe in this novel and I’m not sure where it came from. It started at about the halfway point in the novel where Sparrow starts to discuss her past; her mother seemed to be at the root of this supernatural vibe. I’m not sure yet to make of this inkling just yet; maybe I’m over reading and over thinking this?
I really enjoyed this novel, I felt like I was missing some pieces of it though, I wasn’t left feeling 100% satisfied and I can’t put my finger on it. It was still an enjoyable read and I think this will stick with me for a long time which is why I gave it 4/5 cups of tea.