Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Truth About Sparrows

The Truth About Sparrows

Marian Hale
For ages 12 and up
Henry Holt, 2004   ISBN: 978-0805075847

Sadie’s family have to leave their home in Missouri. The ground is baked hard, the crops are dead and there is no work to be found. Like so many of their neighbours they have to pack up their car and leave the only life they have known. Sadie feels a deep and abiding sense of loss, anger and grief at what is happening to her. Perhaps the worst thing of all to bear is being separated from her best friend Wilma. Wilma and her family left the state a short while ago when their farm was taken over by the bank. Wilma made Sadie promise that whatever happened, they would always be best friends. Now Sadie wonders how that can be possible if Wilma is in California and she is in Texas.

Sadie’s Daddy hopes to be able to make a living fishing in the gulf and the family soon find what looks like a suitable place behind the sea wall at Aransas Pass. Many other families are living there in wooden shacks covered with tar paper and there is one family in particular who help Sadie’s parents out a great deal. There are lots of children in the Gillem family but it is Dollie who is the same age as Sadie and who seems to want to be Sadie’s friend. Sadie however is not sure that she should or can be friends with the red-haired "chatterbox." After all she cannot break her promise to Wilma.

More than anything Sadie wants to go back to Missouri. She is sure that she and her family don’t "belong" in this place with these people. After all she once had a house with a porch; she once had a soft bed to sleep in. She isn’t a "bay rat" who comes from the wrong side of the tracks.

What Sadie comes to learn and realize is that perhaps things are not what they seem. Perhaps her father was not being selfish bringing the family to Texas, perhaps he didn’t have a choice. Perhaps the poor people who lived in the tar paper shacks are just like her family, people who had been hit hard by the Depression, people who had lost everything and needed work. Perhaps Dollie is just like her, missing a lost home, lost friends and a lost life.

With great courage Sadie looks into herself and determines that she is going to change what she doesn’t like about herself. She accepts that she made mistakes, she takes responsibility, and she works hard to make things right. If anything Sadie takes things too hard, punishing herself unnecessarily for imagined wrongdoings. One cannot help admiring and even loving her for her generous spirit and her determination to do the right thing. Best of we love her for her caring heart, for the way in which she worries about a poor nameless homeless man whom she calls "Mr. Sparrow."

With descriptive passages which touch the senses, characters who blossom and grow before our eyes, and a simple story of hope and understanding, this is a unique, powerful and enlightening novel which will speak to the inner person in all of us.