The Truth About Sparrows

Written by Marian Hale
Review by Nancy Castaldo

Sadie’s life in Missouri suits her just fine, but the family cannot survive in the drought-plagued land. Daddy decides they will be better off in Texas. Like many children of the Depression, Sadie must leave her best friend and the home she loves for a new life where children work alongside adults and homes barely resemble the ones they left. The difference is that Sadie’s father has no legs, but he has a fierce determination to provide for his family. It is a story of compassion, perseverance, and strength of character.

Texan Marian Hale has crafted a wonderful middle-grade novel of the Great Depression set at the Arkansas Pass Seawall, just twenty miles from her home. Her first chapter draws us right in and we never leave. Hale’s intimacy with the subject is evident as she creates characters that are convincing and genuine. We feel Sadie’s heartache as she describes leaving her home: “Home disappeared behind us, looking crisp-fried like Mama’s hash-brown potatoes, and all I could think about was how you can’t start a new life without the old one dying first.”

Hale has the gift of all good historical fiction authors: creating a setting that allows the reader to leave the present and live for the duration of the book in an earlier time period. She uses all of our senses to grab us into Sadie’s life at the Seawall. We smell the shrimp at the cannery, taste the pancakes Sadie must bring to school, and feel the winds of the storm that hit the Seawall community.

The Truth About Sparrows, Hale’s first novel, is a jewel. I am anxious to see what comes next. Ages 10+