Its always fun to ask someone who likes to read "so, what are you reading now?" Discussing a book with someone is a good way to get to know a lot about someone. It is also a good way to find material for one of my favorite past times.
The Sparrow, written by Mary Doria Russell has become one of my favorite books and it came to me from a conversation with two people who read a wide variety of material. We happened to be talking over dinner about the books we were reading and one thing lead to another and when I left their home I ended up with a copy of The Sparrow tucked under my arm.
Sci-Fi books are not really the type of books that are at the top of my "My Must Read" list nor are Fantasy books but this one had me turning pages late into the night. The premise is that four Jesuit priests, an astronomer, a physician, her engineer husband, and a child prostitute turned computer expert have been sent to a newly discovered planet to try to contact a totally unknown species that has been found to exist.
The story takes place in the time span of 2019 to 2060 and is told from flashbacks from Emilio Sandoz one of the Jesuits and who happened to be the sole survivor of the mission and is currently on trial for things that have occurred while on the planet Rakhat.
The story is about more than discovering a new planet and the life there, it is about religion and what you do when your "perfect God" turns out to not be what you thought, but it is also about politics, and family.
The author does a suburb job of defining characters as well as creating a planet that even though it seems rather foreign can still be pictured quite well. The whole story could have been an extremely dark and dreary story had it not been for Ms. Russell's light way of bringing it all about and the wit of her pen makes it all very readable. In fact as I was nearing the end of the book I was getting sad that I only had a little bit of time left with Father Emilio. Turned out that there is a sequel and I am currently turning pages once again with Father Emilio and enjoying my time with him as we continue to delve a little deeper into politics, family, religion, and what do you do with it all when none of it seems to make sense.
I will warn you there are parts of the story that are hard to read but there are parts of Anne Frank's Diary that were hard to read too and I believe that I learned something about myself and the world from both reads.