A Sparrow in Terezin

Written by Kristy Cambron
Review by Kevin Montgomery

Perhaps unfairly, when I finish the first chapter or two of a novel, I form an opinion of what I can expect from the rest. In this novel, when I saw beautiful descriptions of sunsets, strawberry-blonde hair dancing on her shoulders, and dialogue-inflicted backstory, I thought, “No wonder it’s 350 pages.” Is the fact that her suit had a chocolate-brown piped collar and was pale blue, or just blue, or blue at all, pertinent to the plot? It’s a personal preference of mine that everything has to be important. If it’s not important, then you’ll miss things that are important. Many readers think otherwise.

On the other hand, the author introduces characters with only one name, shortly later revealing their last name, giving the reader a chance to digest what’s going on. There are no thirty-page chapters or dense full-page paragraphs. With that style, the author demonstrates a real consideration for her readers, which is good.

That being said, I was drawn into the two dramas, wondering how they were going to converge. The first is a contemporary mystery about a likeable character who’s accused of selling an inheritance that he didn’t own. The second involves a girl who escapes 1938 Occupied Prague, makes it to England, and travels back to save her Jewish parents from the Holocaust. I think the premise is a bit strained, but hey, it’s fiction. The intersection of the stories comes about at the end over a painting and some pearls.

If you like novels that read like a two-hour movie, you’ll be frustrated at the pace. But if you enjoy well written literary fiction with such eloquent expressions as, “Dusk had fallen in hazy shades of blue and birds danced from branch to branch, painting trails across the sky,” then you’ll love it.