Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Sparrow

by Mary Doria Russell
New York : Ballantine Books, 2004 (originally published 1996).

On Earth in 2060, Father Emilio Sandoz has returned from a failed mission a broken man; no one knows exactly what went wrong when he and a small group of friends went into space to make contact with aliens. The narrative goes back and forth in flashbacks to the past and the narrative present, as Emilio's Jesuit superiors try to get the full story.

Nothing is simple about this tale. It's about first contact, yes, but it's also about humanity and family and what happens to faith when we're absolutely broken. Even the secondary characters are fully rounded, complex human beings, and I was absolutely drawn in to their stories. This is a stunning, heartbreaking, beautiful book that I can't recommend highly enough.

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