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Sparrow Road Hardcover – May 12, 2011

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Sparrow Road + In Front of God and Everybody (The Confessions of April Grace) + Barn Boot Blues
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 530L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (May 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399254587
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399254581
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #802,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Sparrow suffused with a sense of longing, the same wistful atmosphere surrounding the characters in this beautifully written novel.... Readers finding themselves in this quiet world will find plenty of space to imagine and dream for themselves." -- Kirkus Starrred Review

"That O'Connor can write a book with essentially only one young character and have the result be a timeless piece of middle-grade fiction is a tribute to her understanding that emotions are universal, no matter how old we are, and that art is a balm that has the ability to soothe all wounds. A special book".  Booklist Starred Review

"...the strength of even imperfect human connections is celebrated through the relationships among a multitude of vivid and varied characters."  -- Recommended The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Lyrical writing in this first-person narrative, good character development, and a sympathetic heroine will keep readers absorbed."  -- School Library Journal

" altogether captivating quest." Statesman

About the Author

Sheila O'Connor is the author of Sparrow Road, Where No Gods Came and Tokens of Grace. Sparrow Road is her debut work for children.

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Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 33 customer reviews
Sheila O'Connor's writing style captures the magic and beauty of Sparrow Road.
O'Connor creates such an amazing scene and set of so many characters with such sparse, poetic prose.
Donna Galanti
I highly recommend it for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 9 to 12 or even up to 14.
Cynthia Hudson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly Bower (gladeslibrarian) on June 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The first day of summer holds such promise. For 12-year-old Raine O'Rourke that includes stacking shelves at Grandpa Mac's store, playing chess with Grandpa's best friend and eating all the popsicles and candy she wants. That's how Raine expects to spend this summer too. Instead, she finds herself far from Milwaukee. All of a sudden, her mom decides to take a summer job as a cook at an old mansion in the country. There goes Raine's hope for a fun summer.

Sparrow Road seems to be a summer camp, of sorts, for adults who want to get away from their regular jobs to concentrate on creative projects. Lillian writes poetry. Josie makes assorted things out of fabric scraps. Diego likes to use odds and ends in his artwork and Eleanor is a writer. As soon as they arrive at Sparrow Road, the owner sternly warns Raine not to disturb anyone. Viktor definitely did not make her feel welcome.

Raine knows her mom's hiding something. Why are they really at Sparrow Road? Raine is determined to find the truth. As the days pass, she finds more questions than answers. There are so many mysteries at Sparrow Road. When the biggest secret comes out it will change Raine's life forever.

O'Connor's use of descriptive language brings Raine's world alive. The reader can smell the fish in the lake, the rotten apples in the breeze and the musty blankets in the attic. There is adventure in the air. Her characters are authentic. Each one brings an essential ingredient to aid Raine on her journey. Her story reminds me of a fragrance - Sweet Honesty. It was my favorite at Raine's age. Sparrow Road is sweet, honest and full of hope. It's a perfect read for the first day of summer.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Donna Galanti on May 30, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I wish I could give this book a "blizzard of stars".

If there is one book you read this summer. This is it. This is the book that made me fall in love with reading again. 12-year-old Raine has an unexpected summer that at first she resists and as she transforms, and the people she meets transforms - it changes her life forever.

I read this coming-of-age book every free chance I got over two days. It is so beautifully written, like riding a slow, golden wave that builds and builds and covers all in its beauty to rest finally at a peaceful shore. O'Connor creates such an amazing scene and set of so many characters with such sparse, poetic prose. It's written in the first person, which I usually don't enjoy, but this is written so elegantly it FEELS like third person as we see and feel how all the characters are thru Raine's eyes and heart.

It's a book about searching for something you don't know. It's about love, hope, redemption, getting left behind - and doing the leaving yourself when ready. I cried three times reading this book. I flipped back to pages to re-read the scenes that painted my heart with wonder and feeling.

Don't miss out on this book. I can't wait to read more of O'Connor's books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ODell @ Book Twirps on July 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Twelve-year-old Raine is not happy. Her mother just took a summer job at an artist's sanctuary called Sparrow Road and she's forcing Raine to go with her. Raine would rather stay in Milwaukee with her Grandpa Mac, working in his store and eating all the candy she can get her hands on. It's always been that way, and she doesn't understand why it has to change now. To make matters worse, Sparrow Road has all sorts of rules, the worst being that you are not allowed to talk except for after dinner and on Sundays. As soon as Rainne arrives, she is devising an escape plan. Surely her mother won't make her stay here all summer. Maybe she can convince Grandpa Mac to come get her. As Rainne settles in at Sparrow Road, she gets to know some of the quirky artists and writers that reside there, and she begins tapping into some of her own unknown talents. She also learns that Sparrow Road used to be an orphanage and there are many secrets waiting to be discovered. As the days pass, and Rainne settles in with the artists, a number of things begin taking place that Rainne doesn't understand. Why does she get the feeling that her mother knows Viktor, the caretaker, better than she lets on? Why is Rainne not allowed to go into town with her mother when she runs errands? Why do the residents of Sparrow Road still talk about the orphans that used to live there as if they still exist? As the summer progresses, Rainne will uncover the answers to these questions, and some of them will change her life forever.

I fell in love with this book from the very first page. The prose is fluid and very descriptive. Every scene is painted so vividly I felt as if I was there.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on May 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Without an explanation, her mom Molly takes Raine with her as they move for the summer from Milwaukee to an artist retreat Sparrow Road overlooking Lake Michigan. Raine is upset that they are leaving beloved family especially Grandpa Mac behind while unsure why her mom apparently quit her job to take a position as cook and housekeeper.

She wonders about the relationship between her mother and the Sparrow Road caretaker Viktor, who greets her with strict RULES about no noise before 5:00 PM and leave the artists alone among others; and why her mother (and seemingly the other adults) never allows her to be alone. Diego the artist encourages her to write down her questions, which he says will help her figure out the answers. However, like all youngsters she begins to meet the other eccentric residents on Sparrow Road. Josie tells her about the orphanage that was once here. Other artists encourage her to open herself up to beauty, which she does somewhat, but still ponders about her mom and the "Iceberg" owner.

This is a charming relationship drama as mother and daughter love each other, but are frustrated with one another as well. Upper elementary school children will relish walking Sparrow Road with Raine as their guide; as she has so many questions in which answers lead to more questions.

Harriet Klausner
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