Thursday, August 23, 2018

Book Review: The Sparrow Child by Meriol Trevor (1958)

Philip Sparrow is spending the summer with some of his mother's family at Corben Place. There he learns of a family legend which states that an ancient chalice has been hidden somewhere on the property. While the adults debate the future of the house itself, and the rightful place where Mirabel, an orphaned cousin, ought to live, Philip concerns himself with searching for the long-lost grail.

Published in 1958, this book is one of Trevor's earlier works. Of the ones I've read, two come right before this book (Sun Slower, Sun Faster (1957) and The Other Side of the Moon (1957)) and two more (my favorites, Shadows and Images (1960) and The Rose Round (1963)) come a few years after it. Though this book feels more simplistic and less polished than The Rose Round, both stories have similar themes, and in some ways it feels like The Sparrow Child was a way for the author to explore some of the questions she really covers in depth in The Rose Round. Themes in both books include elderly relatives near the end of their lives, people who wish to control everyone around them, the impact of disabilities on the lives of the disabled and their caregivers, and the idea of home and what constitutes a good one. Interestingly, The Sparrow Child doesn't really include any of the supernatural events that help Trevor's other books resonate so much with the reader - perhaps this is why it felt less rich to me. 

Also present in this book, as in all of her others, is Trevor's unwavering devotion to her Catholic faith. There are so few authors who write authentically Catholic books for kids, so I am very thankful that Trevor did write every story from a Catholic point of view, and didn't tone down the religion in order to appeal to a wider audience. I am always puzzled when I see reviews on Goodreads that say things to the effect of "Well, I know her books are always Catholic, but this one had too much religion in it." If you knowingly pick up a religious-themed novel, why would you then complain when the book was religious? For Catholic families, books like this one, where the existence of God is seen as a given, and where the Catholic church is unquestionably the one true church, are such a gift, and we have so few. To see readers giving them negative reviews simply because they are Catholic is very frustrating.

Meriol Trevor's books are hard to find and can sometimes be expensive to purchase. If you come across this one and it's available for a great price, I would definitely recommend snatching it up. If, however, you are looking to spend a limited book budget on only a few of her titles, this book is probably not one I would make a big priority. For me, the must-haves are The Rose Round, Shadows and Images, and Sun Slower, Sun Faster - in that order. 

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