The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

The Sparrow by Mary Doria RussellWhen intelligent life on another planet is discovered, the Society of Jesus quickly and quietly organizes a team of Jesuit missionaries to explore this new world. The leader of this team is Father Emilio Sandoz, a gifted linguist who believes that God has been guiding him his entire life toward this mission. The novel uses flashbacks to the planet Roquat, as it deals with the Vatican inquest following the mission. Father Sandoz has returned as the sole survivor – dreadfully mutilated, a prostitute and a child killer. How did his vocation and his mission go so terribly wrong?

What the Armchair Critics Thought:
The author deftly deals with a complex plot and multiplicity of characters. While we found it highly unlikely that all of Sandoz’s closest friends would end up on the mission, we liked the people involved, so were willing to accept it. The symbiotic relationship between the two cultures on Roquat was nicely done. We had a terrific discussion about the nature of faith and the motivations of Father Sandoz . While some of us were upset by the outcome of the mission, we were encouraged to read the sequel (Children of God) where humans return to Roquat and discover that changes have continued to occur.

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