Twelve-year-old Raine O’Rourke has no idea why her mother suddenly whisked them away from their home in Milwaukee to take a summer job in Michigan. Sparrow Road is a refuge for artists where they can pursue their craft without distractions. This means no speaking during the day, no television, no children and no noise. The owner is a mysterious, creepy guy named Viktor, and Raine can’t wait to call her grandpa to take her back home.
But as she gets to know the artists and the area, Raine comes to love the peaceful days and the chance she gets to wander freely and write stories. She also sets out to discover the mystery surrounding why she and her mom came to Sparrow Road, and in the process, she discovers a secret that will change everything.
Sparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor is a beautifully told coming of age story that I found myself savoring as I read. Raine is at an age where she resists changes to her way of life, but she’s also open to new possibilities. Her city life was insulated, and in the quiet safety of Sparrow Road, we see her blossom. The long summer days give her lots of time to study the people around her, think about her own life, and spend time on creative pursuits. As summer ends, it seems that Raine will know what choice she needs to make going forward.
While Sparrow Road starts off like a mystery, it unfolds gently and satisfyingly as it morphs into a story about family, friendship, self-discovery and forgiveness. I highly recommend it for mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 9 to 12 or even up to 14.