Sparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor

Sparrow RoadSparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Well, it’s nothing like Milwaukee, that’s for sure.”

Twelve-year-old Raine couldn’t agree more with Mama on that. Sparrow Road’s nothing like the city she calls home. Taken away from her summer at Grandpa Mac’s store where Raine helps stack shelves with treats for eight weeks in a strange place where her mom will cook and clean, Raine is frustrated with everything about the place that has uprooted her.

It doesn’t help that there are only five other people on the property of Sparrow Road, an aging mansion that is home to a summer artists retreat. It definitely doesn’t help that six days of the week talking isn’t allowed until supper time. There’s no tv, no radio, no music. Sparrow Road’s owner, Viktor Berglund, is unbending on these rules, rules that Raine knew nothing about until her arrival. Her mother won’t tell why she took the job at Sparrow Road and won’t let Raine go with on their visits to town.

Parts of that first day at Sparrow Road feel like a disaster. She’s asked about her dad, someone she knows nothing about. A writer embarrasses Raine’s mom and makes it clear that children’ aren’t welcome. Raine has an out. Grandpa Mac promised to come get her if she called even if they are now ten hours ride apart. If only Raine knew where a phone might be at Sparrow Road.

It’s elderly Lillian’s first visit with Raine that reveals Sparrow Road’s past. The old woman’s questions about other children don’t make sense to Raine, nor do her references to the mansion as home. It takes a tour from a big, friendly, laughing artist named Diego to make Lillian’s stories clear. Sparrow Road was an orphanage. Their toys, colors and forgotten things still clutter the attic. Now Raine has two mysteries to solve–the orphans’ past and her mother’s decision to move to the retreat for the summer.

What if? What was? Or what could be? These are the questions Diego encourages Raine to write about in her time at Sparrow Road. These questions help give the long gone orphans a voice and help Raine find her own.

Sparrow Road is the beautifully written story of what it means to be left and the mark that leaves. It’s a story of family, the one people are born with and the ones that they make.

I received my copy free from the publisher at the AASL convetion.

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