young adult contemporary

Book Review: SPARROW, by Sarah Moon

Cover Page of SPARROW, by Sarah Moon. Sparrow is written in orange capital letters across the top of a white background, interrupted by the profile image of a girl with pulled up, natural hair. In the profile of her face, there is a Brooklyn apartment building with a person standing at an open window; green street signs indicating the intersection of Flatbush Ave. and Church Ave.; and a great deal of flying birds and musical notes in the blue sky. Some of the birds fly off of the girl's profile, onto the rest of the white page.

Cover Page of SPARROW, by Sarah Moon. Sparrow is written in orange capital letters across the top of a white background, interrupted by the profile image of a girl with pulled up, natural hair. In the profile of her face, there is a Brooklyn apartment building with a person standing at an open window; green street signs indicating the intersection of Flatbush Ave. and Church Ave.; and a great deal of flying birds and musical notes in the blue sky. Some of the birds fly off of the girl's profile, onto the rest of the white page.

I have a feeling this is going to get long, so the tl;dr right away: this is an absolutely spectacular book. As someone with BPD, depression, and anxiety, this book... it was so, so, so healing, not to mention an absolutely gorgeous piece of writing. Please read and share widely; Sarah Moon's YA debut makes me yearn to read everything else she will ever write. 

Sparrow -- both the girl and the novel -- takes readers on an immensely raw, immensely empathetic journey that feels, at its core, deeply authentic, deeply unique, deeply immersive. Sparrow's narration is compelling for so many reasons, not the least of which because her grow is subtle, immense, and believable.

The community she struggles to forge -- because social anxiety and a deep sense of alienation from the people around her is a tremendous part of this book -- is absolutely beautiful, as is the character herself. 

It's too rare that we get to see Black girls in literature loving and making rock music; too rare that their sadness in literature is not because of slavery or the grief of a civil rights movement; too rare that Black girls get to simply *be*, and get to *heal*, but not because they were made to by the artificially-imposed constraint of an uncomplicated happy ending.

Not once did this novel feel exploitative or the kind of "torture porn" that often occurs when authors try and fail to write a book centralizing mental health struggles and extreme alienation. At every moment, it felt real and believable; at every moment, I felt so much of what Sparrow felt, both for her and within myself.

When Sparrow cried, I cried. When Sparrow lost, I lost. When Sparrow sang, I sang (badly). When Sparrow spoke, I felt like I could, too, speak, and maybe even be heard. When Sparrow felt the stirrings of hope within her for the first time in too long, I felt hope warming me, buoying me, taking me on this marvelous journey toward both self and community.

By nature, I love books; by nature, I am grateful for books. But this book? I am uniquely grateful for this work of art.

My only sadness about this book is that I can only give it five stars.

cross-posted from my Goodreads account.