A ballerina must always wear a careful mask as she dances out life's triumphs and tragedies.
With every step and pirouette, the realities of the world falls behind her, like a dark shadow that mirrors her journey across the broad stage. All her hours of work and effort enable her to become an extension of grace and beauty that transfixes the audience into her world of dance and elegance.
Still, the shadows of the world continue to grow with the dimming light that marks the end of the scene. Before long, all that's left is her bright light against the growing curtain of horrors she's experienced in her life.
The shadow is patient and ever so ready for the moment she flickers.
I have always been drawn to stories about ballerinas and their connection to the nimble world of ballet. Reading about what brings an extra step to their rhythm or what memory allows them to become an extension of the dance is something that mesmerizes me because of how their methods allow them to become a living art form.
Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson is a piece of art in its own right. Jackson follows the steps of Savannah "Sparrow" Darcy Rose who is haunted by her past and tries to channel her pain through the world of ballet with her best friends Lucas and Delaney. However much Sparrow wants to put her past behind her, it is a beat that will always follow us and so, history repeats itself when Sparrow finds herself in an abusive relationship that threatens her life and future dreams.
This work was a truly heartfelt journey that Jackson put an immense amount of heart and soul into. The manner in which she conveys Sparrow's journey and slowly unravels the traumas of her past is both harrowing and hopeful because oftentimes in life, hope and despair can wear the same face. Jackson was able to channel an immense amount of realism that makes Sparrow's pain transcend to the readers who are then healed by Sparrow's hopeful nature that allows her to take brave steps for her own wellbeing.
The dual narrative with her best friend and dance partner, Lucas, is a work of love. It is clear from the beginning that he has affections for Sparrow, yet rather than pursuing a solely romanic narrative, Lucas's observations about Sparrow and how he hurts seeing her in pain allows readers to open their heart to everything Jackson is trying to convey in her story. Lucas beautifully shows how when we truly care and love someone, we always wish the best for them and it hurts so much when you see them going through something that's not good for them. However, that doesn't by any means make an unflawed personality; as Lucas shows, despite his pure intentions towards Sparrow, he has his own painful past, and present moments, to overcome in order to move forward in life.
When I say that Sparrow is a journey, I mean that in many ways. It was a journey of the self, a walk into the hearts of two individuals who you feel that you've known all your life, and a passage of healing that allows us to come to terms with the people that haunt our past. At the end of the work, you can imagine all the sparrows of the world who must fight against the bracing storms around them. Yet, by continuing their struggle, their voices are louder than any storm blowing around them.
Instead, they become a storm.
May all sparrows find their life's dance and have the courage to continue forward on their journey, for, like Sparrow, they will make the music soar.
"The hardest part starts tomorrow, when all this crazy noise and activity go away. Then you have to figure out how to get through the days."
"No matter how wrinkled and old I get, no matter where we go or what we do, even if she forgets my name and I forget hers, even if Levkova's eyes and the smell of rosin and the sound of the music all fade into the dark, we will never, ever forget that we had this. It was ours."
"The gold paint in my hair glitters, and I turn my head from side ti side, admiring the dark and the light..."
by Mary Cecilia Jackson Publisher: Tor Teen Release Date: March 17th 2020 Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
In the tradition of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, a devastating but hopeful YA debut about a ballerina who finds the courage to confront the abuse that haunts her past and threatens her future.
There are two kinds of people on the planet. Hunters and prey
I thought I would be safe after my mother died. I thought I could stop searching for new places to hide. But you can’t escape what you are, what you’ve always been.
My name is Savannah Darcy Rose.
And I am still prey.
Though Savannah Rose―Sparrow to her friends and family―is a gifted ballerina, her real talent is keeping secrets. Schooled in silence by her long-dead mother, Sparrow has always believed that her lifelong creed―“I’m not the kind of girl who tells”―will make her just like everyone else: Normal. Happy. Safe. But in the aftermath of a brutal assault by her seemingly perfect boyfriend Tristan, Sparrow must finally find the courage to confront the ghosts of her past, or lose herself forever….
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary Cecilia Jackson has worked as a middle school teacher, an adjunct instructor of college freshmen, a technical writer and editor, a speechwriter, a museum docent, and a development officer for central Virginia's PBS and NPR stations. Her first novel, Sparrow, was an honor recipient of the SCBWI Sue Alexander Award and a young-adult finalist in the Writers' League of Texas manuscript contest. She lives with her architect husband, William, in Western North Carolina and Hawaii, where they have a farm and five ridiculously adorable goats.
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Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson
Starts: 17th March 2020
Ends: 31st March 2020