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Sparrow Road by Sheila O'Connor

Sparrow Road (edition 2011)

by Sheila O'Connor

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2411384,026 (3.87)2
Twelve-year-old Raine spends the summer at a mysterious artists colony and discovers a secret about her past.
Title:Sparrow Road
Authors:Sheila O'Connor
Info:New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, c2011.
Collections:Your library

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Sparrow Road by Sheila O'Connor


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Raine O'Rourke and her mother move to an odd artist's colony, Sparrow Road, for the summer. Her mother will be the cook. But Raine quickly realizes that her mother had some sort of ulterior motive for taking this job. The man who runs Sparrow Road is silent, brooding, and seems to know her mother very well. One of the artists seems to have a touch of dementia, and is constantly worried about "the children."
But the main purpose was to give Raine the opportunity to meet her father... a man whose name she has never even been told.
Raine's narration frequently had the voice of a girl several years older than her 12-year-old persona. I often found myself picturing her as a high school age girl instead of a preteen. The orphanage story never seemed to completely meld with the Raine-meeting-her-father story. Still, well told, with a variety of interesting and eclectic characters... mostly likable ones. ( )
  fingerpost | Aug 22, 2019 |
The story was pleasant it just moved too slowly for me. ( )
  AmberKirbey | Mar 10, 2016 |
Recommended Ages: Gr. 5-8

Plot Summary: Raine is angry with her mom because they up and left Milwaukee for a slightly creepy summer at Sparrow Road. In the morning, Viktor is still cold, but it's not so creepy anymore. It is weird, though. There is a no talking rule until 6 pm every day except Sunday. Raine doesn't know what she's going to do in the quiet, but Diego shows her how to listen, how to think about what was, and what might be. Raine climbs the tower and imagines what it was like for one of the orphans, Lyman. The artists living at the house for the summer are renting out space, including a shed to work on their art (poetry, writing, trash to treasure), and Mama is now their cook. Mama keeps disappearing to head into town with Viktor and refuses to bring Raine. While she's gone, Raine makes friends with Josie and Lillian. She and Josie are working to uncover the story of the house when it was an orphanage and they are planning a big Arts Extravaganza to invite the locals from the town of Comfort to see the house. They also invite as many orphans as they can. Raine invites Grandpa Mac, who she misses terribly, but how will her family react when they're all together again, now that she knows the reason they are there is for Raine to meet her dad who lives in Comfort. Will everyone get along? What happened to all of the orphans?

Setting: moved from Milwaukee, WI (big city) to Comfort, WI (small town in the middle of nowhere)

Raine O'Rourke - 12 y/o,
Mama - was a hippie musician, had a music scholarship to college, played music on the streets in Amsterdam
Grandpa Mac - Mama's dad, protective of Mama and Raine, Raine's father figure
Viktor Berglund - AKA The Iceberg, nicknamed because he is cold and strict about the rules, barely talks to Raine at first
Lillian Hobbs - poet, old, a little senile and doesn't always know that Raine is there with her mother and not an orphan, very caring and loving, was the teacher at the orphanage
Josie - very excitable, artist who takes Raine under her wing, always comes up with big ideas and convinces Viktor to do them, came up with the idea for the Annual Arts Extravaganza
Eleanor - crabby artist, always sour and unpleasant
Diego Garcia - has a loud bubbly laugh, likes Mama
Lyman Chase - 12 y/o, drew a picture of the hills, was an orphan at Sparrow Road
Gray James - Raine's father, was an alcoholic, fell in love with Mama the first time he heard her sing, met Raine when she was 2 and passed out on a park bench and Raine was found in an alley, was punched by Grandpa Mac for this
Nettie Johnson - an orphan who lived in Sparrow Road and moved nearby, married a pastor, meets Raine and Josie in Comfort and chat for hours

Recurring Themes: alcoholism, fatherless, quiet, rural, writing, arts, creative writing, poetry, family, secrets

Controversial Issues: none (there might be one damn, but I can't find it in my notes)

Personal Thoughts: It was ok. I thought it was too slow. I fell asleep while reading it. It wasn't poorly written, just not my favorite book because of the lack of action. I never felt like I was Raine.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Pacing: slow, not a lot of action, some character development, and lots of description of the arts and area
Characters: fairly well developed, I would like to know more about some of the other artists there

Activity: make art from garbage like Diego

Readalike: Wild Things by Clay Carmichael ( )
  pigeonlover | Jan 1, 2014 |
Wanted to like this book better than I did. A young girl spends the summer at an artists' colony, housed in a former orphanage, and finally meets her delinquent dad. I liked the wholesome qualities of the story--lots of forgiveness, creativity, and community celebration--but found the plot contrived, hinging mostly on a mother unwilling to tell her daughter information, and the characters too good. ( )
  ElizabethAndrew | May 13, 2013 |
An engaging story with a vivid sense of place that insightfully explores family bonds, relationships, and growing up. ( )
  Sullywriter | Apr 3, 2013 |
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~ I give you Sparrow Road.
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In the shadowed glow of headlights the old pink house looked huge, rambling like the mansions on Lake Michigan.
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Twelve-year-old Raine spends the summer at a mysterious artists colony and discovers a secret about her past.

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