Day 1: A wonderful novel about independence and first love

Each day leading up to the April 13 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today we feature 2013 Young People’s Literature Finalist:

Silhouette of a SparrowSilhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin
Published by Milkweed Editions
Category Sponsor: Sit Investment Associates

Growing up in the 1920s, sixteen-year-old Garnet Richardson envies the birds outside her window. Her mother does not approve of Garnet climbing trees to peer into nests or any other such un-ladylike behavior. She has Garnet’s life all planned out: after finishing high school, she’ll marry and tend to the home. But when Garnet is sent away for the summer to stay with relatives in the lakeside resort town of Excelsior, Minnesota, she finds a chance to spread her wings. A newly built amusement park and roaring dance hall beckon, and her explorations land her where she least expects—in a growing relationship with a beautiful and daring flapper, Isabella.

 Excerpt from Silhouette of a Sparrow:

It was the seventeenth of June, 1926, and the Thursday morning streetcar was four minutes late.

On the streetcar platform, tiny birds hopped and pecked around the feet of the waiting crowd. My eyes locked onto one bird, and as I took in the curve of its breast and the fringe of its tail feathers, my fingers worked with sewing scissors, snipping the image out of black paper. Faithfully, the chickadee recreated itself in my hands. A perfect silhouette.

The bird hopped too close to Mother’s tapping foot, and with a startled ruffled of wings it hurried away. I tucked its paper twin into my pocket along with the scissors.

Molly Beth Griffin photo credit Kevin Obsatz

Molly Beth Griffin is a graduate of Hamline University’s MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults and a writing teacher at the Loft Literary Center. Molly Beth lives in Minneapolis with her partner and young son. Visit her online.



“Perhaps the most interesting aspects of this novel involve the depiction and presentation of social concepts, such as traditional versus “new-fashioned” womanhood; the role of money, status and societal acceptance; family relations, structure, obligations, and secrets; and how love comes to be and is perceived. A truly engaging question is posed by Garnet: where are the boundaries between one’s true self, one’s obligations, nature, and society? Griffin handles this issue delicately by making suggestions, rather than tenets, exciting readers to think.” – Lambda Literary

“Garnet’s feminist and environmental concerns are relevant for a young contemporary audience without feeling anachronistic to the narrative.” – The Star Tribune

“Tight and purposeful . . . a positive breath of fresh air.” – Kirkus Reviews

Award winners will be announced at the 25th Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 13, 2013 at the Hilton Minneapolis. An author meet-and-greet and book signing reception precedes the awards ceremony, and the Epilogue after-party, sponsored by Tech Logic, includes complimentary champagne, desserts, and live music. Tickets on sale now. Click here for more information.

Have you read Silhouette of a Sparrow?  What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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Posted in Young People's Literature
One comment on “Day 1: A wonderful novel about independence and first love
  1. ginapoet says:

    Beautiful writing. Thanks for sharing this!!

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