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Silhouette of a Sparrow


Silhouette of a Sparrow Cover

ISBN13: 9781571317049
ISBN10: 157131704x
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American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

I was born blue. Life ripped me early from my safe place and thrust me into the world. It was all so astonishing that I forgot to breathe.

But the puffed-up robin that sang outside the window of the birthing room came early too, that March of 1910, and just in time. He flew north before the spring came so he could sing me into the world. His song said Breathe child, this life was meant for you. When I finally let out my first scream I flushed red as that robin--red: the color of life, blood, love, and fury. At that moment I earned my name, Garnet, after the deep red stone thats meant to bring courage. “Garnet, for courage,” Aunt Rachel, the midwife, said to me, when I was just a squalling baby.

My mother gave me life that day, but I was the one who decided to take it. I claimed it for myself.

Thats how the story goes. At least, thats the way Aunt Rachel told it to me a hundred times over, even after I knew it by heart. Thats the version I asked to hear again and again as a child, so I could wrap those pretty words around me like a familiar blanket and fall asleep thinking I knew exactly who I was.

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Michelle Jennifer, December 9, 2013 (view all comments by Michelle Jennifer)
Molly Beth Griffin has crafted a charming story of adolescent life in early twentieth century Midwestern America. Silhouette of a Sparrow is a sweet--not saccharine--novel with well-developed characters, believable obstacles, and engaging natural detail. I was surprised to learn Griffin is not a birder, because the lens of her story is ambitious and her avian descriptions are unaffected.

Silhouette is set in a real town with an historical composite of geography and background events. Valuable discussions of race, class, gender, sexual preference, speciesism, and ecology are woven smoothly through the book and well-served by an historically accurate context. Garnet is a delightful subject--smart, passionate, self-aware--whose struggle for independence in a world of stifling social protocol reminded me of Jane Eyre.

Griffin is concerned with environmental conservation versus thoughtless human destruction. In Silhouette she also explores conserving identity versus thoughtless self-abnegation. I particularly enjoyed her interpretation of creatures' silhouettes as boundaries between self and not-self, which is where Garnet's story lies (reminiscent of Annie Dillard's boundaries of skin in American Childhood). Garnet must learn she cannot be both obedient and happy--a valuable lesson or reminder for readers of all ages.
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Product Details

Griffin, Molly Beth
Milkweed Editions
Historical - United States - 20th Century
Children s-General
Edition Description:
First Trade Paper Edition
Milkweed Prize for Children's Literature
Publication Date:
8 x 5.25 in
Age Level:
from 12 up to 18

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Related Subjects

Children's » General
Children's » Historical Fiction
Children's » Historical Fiction » General
Children's » Historical Fiction » United States » 20th Century
Children's » History » United States » 1900 to Present
Children's » Nonfiction » US History
Young Adult » Fiction » Social Issues » Homosexuality

Silhouette of a Sparrow Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
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Product details 208 pages Milkweed Editions - English 9781571317049 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Silhouette of a Sparrow is an excellent example of an historical coming-of-age lesbian young adult novel. Written with a deft hand, based in the true history of its setting, and with characterizations that will ring true to any teenager, it is a worthy and enjoyable read for anyone. The writing style is straight-forward so the plot turns, analogies, and descriptions stand out, adding vibrancy to the story."
"Review" by , "Griffin's first novel for teens is laced with evocative period details that give readers a taste of what it was like to come of age during the flapper era."
"Review" by , "Silhouette of a Sparrow is Molly Beth Griffin's first novel, and fans of young adult fiction will enjoy its quiet drama."
"Review" by , "Tight and purposeful...a positive breath of fresh air."
"Review" by , "Garnet's feminist and environmental concerns are relevant for a young contemporary audience without feeling anachronistic to the narrative."
"Review" by , "A lovely, bittersweet and quiet coming of age story. It brilliantly combines its vivid historical setting (which has been meticulously researched by the author) and Garnet's love for ornithology with a story about growth and about falling in love...a very enjoyable, gratifying read. I recommend it."
"Review" by , "An immensely charming short novel....Griffin perfectly captures the mood of America in the twenties — prohibition, first wave feminism, ongoing and virulent racism, the class war at one of its many peaks — and it is this that pushes Silhouette to be more than 'just' a coming of age romance novel, but an example of historical fiction at its most vivid."
"Synopsis" by , Winner of the Milkweed Prize For Children's Literature

Winner Of The 2013 Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers

ALA Rainbow List Recommended Book

Amelia Bloomer Project List Recommended Book

Lambda Literary Award Finalist

Minnesota Book Award Finalist

Foreward Reviews Book of the Year Honorable Mention

In the summer of 1926, sixteen-year-old Garnet Richardson is sent to a lake resort to escape the polio epidemic in the city. She dreams of indulging in ornithology and a visit to an amusement park — a summer of fun before she returns to a last year of high school, marriage, and middle-class homemaking. But in the country, Garnet finds herself under supervision of oppressive guardians, her father's wealthy cousin and the matron's stuck-up daughter. Only a job in a hat shop, an intense, secret relationship with a beautiful flapper, and a deep faith in her own heart can save her from the suffocation of traditional femininity in this coming-of-age story about a search for both wildness and security in an era full of unrest. It is the tale of a young woman's discovery of the science of risk and the art of rebellion, and, of course, the power of unexpected love.

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