What’s your favorite book that nobody else has heard of? You know, not Little Women or Huckleberry Finn, not the latest best-seller . . . whether they’ve read them or not, everybody “knows” those books. I’m talking about the best book that, when you tell people that you love it, they go, “Huh? Never heard of it?”
I’m going to have to go with The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. I do think a lot of people have heard of it, but I very rarely hear it mentioned in book circles so I’ll share my feelings on it.
This is the story of an unlikely group of people (a couple of Jesuit priests, a scientist, a musician, a doctor, and an ex-prostitute) who discover that there is life on another planet, located light years away from Earth, and decide to actually go there to study that planet and its inhabitants. It sounds very science fiction-y, and I suppose technically it is, but really it is an absolutely beautiful novel. It is impossible not to fall in love with these characters, as they are so well-developed and even the “aliens” are believable. Russell’s prose is really stunning, in my opinion, and the book just all comes together so perfectly throughout. I truly love this story and it is one of my favorite books of all time (top 5 for sure). Just a forewarning – if you read this, you’ll absolutely want to read the sequel too (although the sequel is not NEAR as good, in my opinion).