Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin

Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin

Garnet Richardson is bound by tradition and history to fulfill the roles her mother has designed for her.  She will get married, raise a family, be a good Lutheran and take care of her parents.  Except that Garnet has other plans and as she tries to break out of her 1920's mold, she will be caught between love and duty.

Garnet's dad returned from the Great War shell shocked, the polio epidemic is raging in the city and she must leave for the summer.  Garnet takes the street car to Excelsior, Minnesota to stay with her Aunt and cousin, the Harrington's, at a resort on Lake Minnetonka for the summer.  Here she gets a job at a hat shop, meets a beautiful dancer, spends time at the lake, an amusement park and bird watches.  But mostly she sneaks out to hang out with her new friend Isabella and it is shaping up to be a summer to remember.

Garnet loves birds.  In each chapter of Sillhouette of a Sparrow, Griffin incorporates a bird species native to the Minnesota landscape.  Each bird has a role in the chapter and may have characteristics similar to the characters.  Garnet usually cuts a silhouette of the bird out of paper and hangs it on her wall to remember, to enjoy her flock.  I really looked forward to learning which bird Griffin would incorporate into each chapter.

Griffin creates a strong, subtle storyline in Silhouette of a Sparrow.  It is enlightening to learn what a young woman's role in society was like in the 1920's and how hard it was to be different, much less break out of society's traditional roles.

Silhouette of a Sparrow is different than traditional young adult historical fiction.  It has a unique storyline within a unique setting.  It is not so much a coming out story as it is a love story.  The love story was subtle, well-written and believable.  Griffin's characters are so real and passionate and they complement each other well.

Silhouette of a Sparrow was shortlisted for the Minnesota book award in the teen fiction category and it is well-deserving of it's place on the list.

"My first thought when she came through the door to the hat shop was scarlet tanager.  It must of been the bright red lips that perched on her pale face.  She had shiny black hair, bobbed, and dark eyes, and she wore a sundress cut above the knee and no stockings."  Pg. 51 (how scandalous, a dress cut above the knee and no stockings)

Garnet is a sparrow who is learning to spread her wings and fly.  Don't let this sparrow fly away.