Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson

I think there's a rule somewhere that says that if an author writes a book about ballet, you are legally required to read it. How else to explain my apparent compulsion in picking up books about ballet, even though I've never really had an interest in it before in my life? Something about the discipline required, the athleticism, and the intense emotions just appeals to me on a very base level.

SPARROW is a book about a high school ballerina named Sparrow. She has close friends and is passionate about ballet. When she ends up going out with the hot jock on campus, Tristan, it seems like her whole life is perfectly rounded out. But Tristan is not a nice boy; and when he attacks her one day, she must spend the rest of the book not just having to recover, emotionally and physically, but also face the dark, half-buried memories from childhood that his abuse has inadvertently uncovered.

I didn't realize this when I picked up the book, but SPARROW is a dual-POV story. Half is told from Sparrow's POV and the other half is told from the POV of the Nice Guy who she's friendzoned, Lucas. I kind of wish the whole book had been narrated from Sparrow's POV, because it kind of ends up feeling like one of those cautionary tales Nice Guys feed girls to gaslight women into dating them, e.g. "He's no good for you, I'm the only one who can treat you right, hope he beats you to teach you a lesson, etc." Lucas isn't like that at all, but I'm not sure having that dichotomy in the narrative was a good move.

I liked Sparrow's POV, but wasn't as big a fan of Lucas. This is a story of healing and confronting abuse, and while the author did that part of the book really well, I didn't really feel like Lucas's POV had any place in Sparrow's journey of healing. The writing is beautiful and it does portray an abusive relationship pretty realistically-- to the point where it's hard to read at times-- but something about it felt a little too dramatic and contrived, and it kind of ended up feeling like a Lifetime movie.

SPARROW is not a bad book but I would not put it on the same level with Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK, as the blurb writers did. That only raises somewhat unrealistic expectations.

Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy! 

2.5 out of 5 stars

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