Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Sparrow: Read Along Discussion Questions

As you may know by now, I'm participating in a read along for The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. It's the halfway mark this week, and Heather from 30+... A Lifetime of Books has come up with a bunch of wonderful discussion questions to get the conversation going.

Here's the few that I'm attempting to answer:

For first time readers, how does your reading so far match up to what you expected from this book?

I'm not quite sure what I expected. I heard it was "different" and that it was "shocking" and mostly that it would make me think. So it fulfilled all those expectations. I didn't expect it to have funny parts, which it did (Anne was wonderful!) and I didn't expect it to be quite so science fiction-y, or so religious.... both at the same time. But mostly I heard it was "really good" and I agree, it was.

This book is set in a not-so-distant future in which the balance of world power has shifted from the United States to Japan. Poverty, indentured servitude, ghettos, and “future brokers” are common. Based on this projected future, would you classify this novel as dystopian? Do you think this future is a real possibility based on where the world is today?

You know, I completely missed the Japan thing! But yes, I do think it could be considered a bit dystopian and sadly, quite a possibility for us, I think. 

From the beginning of the book we know that Something Bad happened during the mission but it takes until almost the end of the book for the reader to get the whole story. Do you think the author built the suspense to the perfect pitch or do you feel that she drew it out too long?

Oh, yes, that Something Bad had me hanging on, and worrying, and fretting for much of the book. I kept telling everyone, "I'm scared of this book! I don't want to finish it!" but of course, I really did want to. I think the suspense was good and not drawn out too long. Funny though, when that final reveal happened, it was like, wait, what? It was a little bit subtle, don't you think? Like, did I just read what I think I read?

Funny about that Something Bad... that's exact how I referred to it as I was reading... and that last day when I decided to "just finish it" (in the morning of course, no night reading for this book!) my husband even called from work  to ask did I get to the Something Bad yet? And was it really THAT bad? And was it what I thought it would be? I must have really been making a big deal out of it for him to be that curious!

If you've gotten to the end, was the final truth one you expected or were you taken by surprise?

Oh, taken by surprise for sure. I didn't know if the stuff that was being hinted at and alluded to all along would be the final Bad Thing, which made me not even consider the real final Bad Thing. Having said that, I'm one to not easily figure stuff out. I'm a pretty clueless reader for the most part. 

Many people, in times of crises, ask how God can let bad things happen to good people. If someone asked you this, what would be your response? How do you think the author is choosing to answer that question in this book?

The pat "Sunday school" answer for my believes is that we are here, on this Earth, to have our faith tried and tested.....that our problems and hardships make us stronger and build us up and teach us more about ourselves.... that after the trials come the blessings. But to apply all this to Emilio's experience is hard,and I'm really not sure what the author is trying to say, perhaps that some people's tendency to lay everything that happens at God's feet is not fair (putting it mildly.) I don't know. 

But, I do think that even with all the awful stuff that happened, a lot of really cool stuff happened to, and that, in the end, hopefully they can all look back and decide that what they did and accomplished and learned was a good thing after all. 

I look forward to seeing what every one else has to say. If you are interested, click here for the list of other participant's answers.


  1. Thanks so much for participating! I'm glad that the book liked up to the "it's really good!" hype you'd heard. :)

  2. Great answers to some great questions! I agree with you about the humor - for me, it's one of the elements that really brings the book and its characters to life.

    Thanks for reading along with us!

  3. We (my husband and I) really love both The Sparrow and its sequel, Children of God.

  4. Hi, Suey! I'm not sure which I luv more, books or quilts/mixed media/fibre art. They do overlap! I'm here to check out the sunshine nominees and I'm going to come back as soon as get my project done. I luv Tolkien and he has a special place on the bookshelf. But I need to put A Knight's Tale in the DVD library! 8^)



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