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Book 17 of 80

March 8, 2010


So, in one of my earlier posts, I said one of my favorite books of last year was The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. There is something truly compelling about this talented woman’s ability to craft an epic. Since she was a favorite last year, I jumped at the chance to read her again. In her book A Thread of Grace, Russell follows Jewish refugees from Vichy France into Italy — where they learn that Mussolini has surrendered Italy to Hitler. At the heart of this piece of historical fiction is the story of the Italians who sheltered over 40,000 Jews from concentration camps. 

I read about 40 pages today during school and I’m totally enthralled — Russell is a master craftsman. When I was in junior high, I stumbled across a series of books called the Shiloh Legacy. Those books were historical fiction that followed men and women from the end of World War I through the Great Depression. Those characters and their stories are still with me  — the author wrote character driven historical fiction…the events of the times were the backdrop for the larger issues within each individual. Russell strikes me as similar in that regard: Her characters can transcend time and place, but the historical context only makes the stories richer, fuller, and…I feel…unputdownable.

I’m 100% sold on this book already. It’s hefty at nearly 500 pages; and the subject matter is anything but light. (Early in the book…like…the first chapter…and someone has already been introduced and shot in the head! It’s more gut-wrenching than that…but I won’t give anything away.) Look, I bawled through the end of The Sparrow — uncontrollable sobbing. I tried to tell Matt why I was crying and I would just cry harder. (And YES…YES I cry at everything. But just because Zombieland made me cry doesn’t negate any of the power that book had over me. Yeah, you read correctly: Zombieland.)

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