ACFW, April, art, bayou, book review, bullying, Carlos, Christian fiction, compassion, courage, death, faith, gifted children, gifted teachers, grief, gulag, hope, Houston, intelligence, intolerance, languages, learning, life, Love, Luca, Nick, overcoming grief, patience, photography, prison, Rachel Phifer, Romania, Romanian language, Sierra, suicide, survivors, teaching, Texas, The Language of Sparrows, women's fiction, writing
When artist April Wright and her fifteen-year-old daughter, Sierra, move to Houston, Texas, they are trying to escape a past neither of them can get over. But their pain follows them, and April has no idea how to help her brilliant daughter, who learns languages like others eat candy but is failing school. Sierra can barely speak to others and does her best to remain invisible. Even her classmate and neighbor, Carlos, has a hard time reaching her, in spite of his compassion and patience. Then Sierra meets old Luca, a survivor of a Romanian gulag, who matches wits with her and draws her into a friendship that others refuse to understand. His son, Nick, is a gifted teacher, but the relationship between him and his father is like a tree that has grown twisted and bent under years of misunderstanding and grief. As Nick reaches out to help Sierra, he becomes friends with Sierra’s mom, April, and falls for her. However, April is still grieving about her husband’s suicide, and she doesn’t know how to tell the truth to her daughter. It’s been a long time since she even took a photograph. As the two families come to know each other and reveal what is in their hearts, a miracle begins to happen.
I LOVED this book! Wow! I was up until 2:30 a.m. reading. I could not put it down. After reading this book, I need to go back and lower all the stars I gave to the other books, because this one deserves five stars, no – ten stars.
I was drawn into the inner workings of each character’s heart, and I felt so deeply for them. I ached to help them. Though the story centers around Sierra, all four characters are vividly portrayed, each struggling under weighty burdens. Eventually, rays of hope break through the clouds of adversity and drench their lives. Their faith is handled sensitively with just the right amount of emphasis. This incredible book is about the courage to reach out to others and make a difference in someone’s life. I was so inspired by it.
Rachel Phifer has done an absolutely amazing job with this beautiful debut novel, which was the winner of the 2012 ACFW Genesis Award. The Language of Sparrows is now one of my very favorite books.