Book Review


Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson was a book I’ve had my eye on, and my good friend Kristy at Caffeinated Fae was incredibly kind in gifting it to me.

TRIGGER WARNING: abusive relationship, off-page parent death, mention of suicide, child abuse

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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 your are, what you’ve always been.

My name is Savannah Darcy Rose.

And I am still prey.

Savannah goes by the nickname Sparrow. She has a promising future in ballet, and her past is revealed in bits and pieces. The first thing I noticed about Sparrow is that she has some behaviors that are reminiscent of OCD — she counts and taps when she’s nervous, organizes her food a bit obsessively, and seems to be struggling with some anxiety issues. She starts dating one of the most popular boys in school, but the relationship rapidly becomes abusive. As she makes excuses for her boyfriend’s behavior, becomes more distant from her friends, and apologizes, she fits into the profile of an abused woman. Throughout the book, she demonstrates an incredible amount of change and growth.

Lucas is the other narrator. As her ballet partner and one of her closest friends, he cares deeply for Sparrow and doesn’t hesitate to express his concerns directly to her. He’s no stranger to difficulties — as a young man who dances ballet, he already has a target on his back. He also struggles with issues at home, which he hesitates to share with others, and this contributes to him becoming distant from others. As he remains outspoken about Sparrow’s relationship, he means well in trying to help her out, but ends up pushing her away more.

It was so easy to become absorbed in the story. The voice of the characters felt accurate in what I remember from my own teen years and how I see other teenagers interacting, both with adults and with each other. The dynamic between Sparrow and her boyfriend also fits established patterns of abusive relationships and how people interact, both within the relationship as well as the way it affects people around the person on the receiving end of the abuse.

“‘Don’t apologize for him, Sparrow. You didn’t flip me off. He did.’

‘He’s upset because I forgot to wear the necklace.’”

I loved the way that ballet is a major part of the story, as a sport, an art form, and a way of life. It really highlights the beauty and emotional aspects involved in dance.

“It’s hard. Nothing prepares you for how much strength and stamina it requires. The swan arms are hard to keep going, and my shoulders ache all the time. The balances are tricky. Everything has to be crisp and clean and pure, at the same time conveying the most complicated human emotions. Love. Loss. Betrayal. Fear.”

The story is extremely realistic. It wasn’t an easy read, but it was such a powerful book, and it ultimately focuses on strength, resiliency, and hope above all. I understand that the material isn’t for everyone, but if you can read this type of book, I’d strongly suggest it. It’s definitely worth it.

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