Well, September is over which means The Sparrow Readalong, hosted by Trish, is officially over too. Most of you know that this is my favorite book ever, so I will spare you a review – the whole thing would say READ IT READ IT READ IT – and just give some of my thoughts upon finishing this marvelous novel for the third time.
Warning – I’m answering some of Trish’s questions so there will be definite spoilers. Please skip this part if you plan to read the book yourself.
As far as Emilio’s confession goes, I too felt that he was unfairly judged by the priests. Reading it a third time illuminated for me how they assumed, without a shadow of a doubt and before even asking Emilio what happened, that he was guilty of the crimes they believed were committed. Not one time did one of those guys say “hmm, prostitution, that seems a little out of character for our guy Emilio here. Maybe this wasn’t exactly a choice he made, perhaps there was some force involved?” Not ONCE. I remembered that, vaguely, from the first time I read the book but this time it shocked and disgusted me how they were so convinced that he had asked for this – WHO in his right mind would ask for what happened to Emilio? I am not sure if, after confessing, he felt absolved of the choices he made and of the horrible things that were done to him, but I do think it was cathartic for him to finally tell the priests what really happened on Rakhat. He carried so much grief, sorrow, shame, and mostly guilt for what happened to his friends and himself, he needed everything out in the open. I’ve only read Children of God, the sequel, once, but I do plan to read it again because I believe some of Emilio’s emotions become a little more clear and he begins to forgive himself in the second book (if I remember correctly).
Supaari. I don’t know. On one hand, I don’t think he thought of the humans, even Anne, on the same level as himself. It is clear that the Runa are a lesser species, and definitely Supaari thought of the humans on a similar level – yes they were obviously more intelligent than Runa, but they weren’t the *same* as Supaari, if that makes sense. So I don’t know that what he did to them was SO awful, according to the standards of his culture, and I think knowing the ending made me suspicious of him all along. I could definitely see, from early on in their relationship, that it couldn’t possibly end well for Supaari and the humans – they weren’t going to live in a castle together happily ever after, that was evident from the start. But, ultimately, I would say I felt betrayed by him too. He could have made different choices and he chose to hurt people for his own good. But again, in his culture, he was raised to believe that’s the only way to get ahead – at the expense of others. So I don’t know – I’m almost mad at the humans for putting so much faith and trust in him, without really understanding his background and culture before doing so.
Askama. I have no words. That scene has me bawling every time.
I loved the religious aspects of the book. The first time I read it, I was a non-believer, and every single thing Anne said was like gold to me. I still deeply love everything she said and find so many of her quotes moving – for a non-believer, she’s pretty darn spiritual and does believe, in her own way. But I am Christian now, and I do connect deeply with Emilio. I cannot even consider the idea of what he went through – he gave and gave and gave, and in return he received, from his God, the ultimate betrayal. Words cannot express what that must feel like, but Russell did a pretty damn good job doing just that. When I think of Emilio, I just get all the feels and I can’t even talk about it. I just … how do you even keep believing when that happens to you? How do you reconcile the God you love and trust with the same God who would put you in that position? These are questions that have plagued Christians for centuries, and will continue to do so forever, I’m sure. Which is one reason I love that Russell gives no easy answers – only individually can we come up with the answers for ourselves in our own lives.
Anyway, I’m so happy I read The Sparrow a third time and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Children of God, at some point before the end of the year. Thanks Trish for hosting! I had fun. 🙂
3 thoughts on “The Sparrow Readalong Wrap-Up”
Beautiful. I suppose I need to reread this which I do hope to someday but I do think the priests protected and waited for Emilio to share the story. The calling of the one from Chicago, for example, he didn’t even know why he was given that role yet, he was great with Emilio! Why would they have found him to be the caretaker if not for some question as to how exactly they could be gentle and patient as they tried to figure out how to ‘deal’ with Emilio. A most amazing thought provoking book. I like it more and more as I consider the experience.
I am so moved by how moved you are by this book. Ha! You highlight here just how complicated of a story this is and how Russell so fantastically shows all of the aspects of humanity and faith and trust. If there was ever a character-driven book, this is certainly it! Interesting what you say about Anne and Emilio in relation to believing. I’m a non-believer and absolutely related to Anne–but yes, those grappling questions about WHY GOD! Such a complex and beautiful book. Glad you joined us. 🙂
Ack – this book! I cannot even believe I waited so long to read it. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire book but I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book that packed a bigger punch in the last 10%.