Saturday, February 22, 2020

Silhouette of a Sparrow: YA Lesbian Historical Novel About Following Dreams

I don't know what led me to Silhouette of a Sparrow, the only YA novel by children's fiction writer, Molly Beth Griffin. It is a book that I needed to read.  So whatever the source was, I'm grateful to have discovered it.


I must have been drawn to this book by the cover which is quite extraordinary resembling some prehistorical image of a bird woman rooted in nature.  Then I must have read the description which identified it as taking place in the Roaring 1920's, a favorite period of mine which began exactly a hundred years ago.  The fact that Garnet Richardson, the 16 year old female protagonist, loves birds and wants to become an ornithologist made the novel seem unusual and intriguing.  This aspect of the book also was appealing to me as someone who is concerned about the non-human species with which we share our planet.

It belongs on this blog because there are strong women who assist Garnet in recognizing that she has the right to claim a future for herself.

The most significant of these women is 18 year old Isabella, the courageous dance hall performer labeled as a "harlot".  Isabella knew that she had to dance, and that if she had to break society's rules to do that, so be it.

Other women who helped to change the way Garnet thought about her life were Miss Maple, her summer employer, and her unconventional Aunt Rachel who never actually appears in the narrative.  Both of them served as examples that caused Garnet to realize that a woman could choose not to marry.

This is also a lesbian romance, but not one with a traditional HEA ending. I felt that the relationship between Garnet and Isabella had emotional intensity despite its brevity.  Would they ever come back together?  It's a possibility.  The future of these fictional characters is unknown unless Molly Beth Griffin chooses to revisit their lives in another book. Without that sequel, Garnet and Isabella remain frozen for us at the point where the author left them behind in the summer of 1926.

The advantage of never advancing this narrative beyond 1926 is that Garnet can retain the optimism for which the Roaring Twenties are known in order to inspire other readers of Silhouette of a Sparrow as I have been.