In today's world of shaky social structures, an elite education is invaluable. But, a body count just might be too much.
Jannie Sparrow, a small woman, has secured a modest home in Sunny Point, Louisiana where the sun is hot, but the high school is the best.
While Jannie is attending a parent-teacher conference, the high school was struck by a mass murder, and no one asks why. Now adored by the world as a result of saving lives while shielding her son from harm, she finds that a toy chest in her home is full of guns, and a bomb.
As a system of powerful residents pressures her to keep quiet, she discovers that most of the evidence no longer exists, and all of the shooters are believed to be dead. The investigation is set to be closed and she thinks this is almost over. But how can this ever be over?
Does she cause her sons to be imprisoned and turn it all to shame, that will last for generations? Or does she put on a fake smile and look away from all of the families of the victims and succumb to fame and fortune?
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"Dead silence made no sense to her."
Set in a small town high school, Robyn Graham tells the story of that all too terrifying event - a shooting of the students by a few of their classmates, and of one mother, hailed as an heroine and saviour, who struggles to make sense of what has happened. It is a brave and well written attempt to tease out truth not only of who was responsible and what actually occurred, but why. And the courage to stand up and tell. The characterisations were good, too, although that of the main protagonist, the mother, remained elusive to me despite the larger part of the book being told from her point of view. Her sons, however, were skilfully drawn and felt persuasively realistic most of the time, if a little young for their ages.
Daniela Acitelli's narration, though clear and competent, was too slow for the pace of the book, making it feel dreamlike and syrupy, a contradiction with the events evolving in the text. Increasing the speed to 1.25 certainly helps. I would have prefered a more forceful reading of the story.
The ending, though the book is complete in itself, does open the way for a sequel. Will I be reading it? I don't know: I think I will have to allow time to pass before I can decide. But I am glad to have been given the opportunity to listen to this book, Sparrow's Song, which I received as a gift via Audiobook Boom, as it is an original take on an horrifying social problem, presented in an easily digested, compassionate way. I recommend it to everyone, especially parents.
- Norma Miles