A coming of age story set in the 20′s, Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin is a little bit Member of the Wedding (evocative of a time and place) and a little bit Fried Green Tomatoes (a budding relationship between two young women looking to assert themselves). It is charming and beautifully written. This book would be a great historical fiction accompaniment to a High School unit on the roaring 20’s or women’s changing roles in American history.
Gigi struggles to balance her family’s traditional values and expectations for her with her desires and dream (to study ornithology). There is enough tension and drama to keep the pacing tight. And the writing is lovely. Really lovely. And how awesome is a protagonist who says, “I held onto this practice of scientific naming as a small rebellion — a secret whispered between me, the silhouettes, and my bedroom wall.”
Gigi goes from being a passive participant in her life to taking risks (going to the carnival and on the boat trip) and even challenging those around her to change (Miss Maple, Hannah). When her life takes a difficult and unexpected turn, she rises to the occasion and finds her strength. “[I]f I had the courage to [SPOILER], I also had the courage to speak the truth.”
While Gigi is clearly the focus of this book, the secondary characters are not given cookie cutter identities. At the beginning most of the characters think they know who they are and what they want. Gigi says, “I could wrap those pretty words around me like a familiar blanket and fall asleep thinking I knew exactly who I was.” As circumstances challenge their lives and beliefs, Hannah, Avery, and Isabella grow and discover their strengths.
As I finished the book, I wanted to know more. [MILD SPOILER] Did Gigi go to college? Was her relationship with Isabella a summer romance? Did they stay friends? [END SPOILER] And that’s the mark of a good book — a book where I care so much about the characters that I wonder about them long after I finish reading the book. I being so caught up in the world of a book that I feel it’s pull in my non-reading life. “Fly, Gigi, fly!”
I cannot recommend it strongly enough. This is a must read if you love beautifully crafted YA literature.
*Thanks to Milkweed for proving the eARC of this book via Edelweiss*