adventures in dysthymia

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

 a book review ~

SPARROW ALONE ON THE HOUSETOP
by Jean James and Mary James

The new novel by Jean and Mary James, Sparrow Alone on the Housetop, is an action-packed mystery drama set in present-day rural Mexico and Houston's centers of commercial power. It is in the interaction of these two very different worlds that the story arises -- a tale of greed versus courage.

Though not overtly religious, this book has a Christian slant, dealing with good and evil in it own terms, as well as exploring environmental issues. It is, however, in the determination and faith of the protagonist, Anne Sumner, missionary and daughter of an unscrupulous and tyrannical business magnate, that the true message of the novel lies. Sparrow is the story of a woman who will not be swayed from truth and duty.

Indeed, she is perhaps too driven. Every hero must have her flaws, after all, and Anne comes off as very human at times. She, and most of the other characters in this book, is well drawn and believable.

Anne's village in Mexico is in trouble. A strange sickness begins to claim victims, including the young woman herself. Ill and with no resources other than her own convictions and the aid of a bush pilot of questionable motives and allegiances, she works to unravel the cause of the epidemic. There is a mystery story here, and a romance story. Moreover, there is a story that rings true on all levels. Real people, real problems, even real horses!

Sparrow Alone on the Housetop has a strong, somewhat spare narrative tone, quite readable and enjoyable. It has the drive of a good, well-paced screenplay. I was quite honestly impressed. The authors know what they want to say and get it across to their audience -- that is the ultimate criteria on which all art must be judged.

Needless to say (but I will anyway), I recommend this book. It's not the perfect novel by any means. It is not a 'big' novel, in either length or intent, nor an ambitious attempt to wrest away the crowns of Hemingway or Faulkner. But it does deserve to be read and will not disappoint.

This novel is published by 4RV Pubishing ~ more information may be found at the dedicated website Year of the Sparrow




note: I have begun a dedicated review blog site, Ranger Reviews, where this will also appear, along with any future 'criticism' and thoughts. I will also copy (and probably expand upon) some of the older reviews I've posted here at The Lucky Lad.

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