The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Buffalo & Erie County Public Library Staff Review by Michelle Snyder:
Anyone who thinks that science fiction can’t also be literary fiction needs to read The Sparrow
Beautiful and heartbreaking, it tells the story of the discovery of intelligent “singing” from another planet and the mission to visit this civilization. While United Nations diplomats endlessly debate a possible first contact mission, the Society of Jesus quietly organizes an eight-person scientific expedition of its own in a desire to meet and greet another civilization and thereby better understand the God who created both. It is told through parallel narratives of the expedition as it proceeds, alternating with the story of the investigation into why the mission ultimately fails through the testimony of its sole survivor, Emilio Sandoz, a priest, who returns to Earth damaged physically and psychologically.
To say that this book is moving is an understatement. The well constructed, character-driven plot stays with you hours after you finish reading.  Just as this is not solely a science fiction novel, it cannot be characterized as a Christian novel. The concepts of belief, cosmology, faith, and divine purpose that Russell addresses throughout are made stronger and more effective in their universality. The incredible depth of intimacy one feels with the characters along with the soul searching that is personally inevitable, and the suspense that is almost unbearable, make The Sparrow a classic in more than one genre.
If you’re interested in this book, there is a library in your neighborhood where you can find it. Your public library is a source of immediate gratification. Take a walk to your local branch and discover a vital resource that is there for the taking. Whether it’s current events, a visit to our downtown cafe called Fables, something for the kids, or even booking a librarian, we’re not just books anymore! Your free Buffalo & Erie County Public Library card is your ticket to millions of free resources – e-books, downloadable music, research databases, genealogical materials, our complete catalog, and of course, more than 3 million book titles. All of this is at your fingertips at any Library in Erie County or from your own computer – check us out at

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