Monday, July 15, 2013

The Language Of Sparrows by Rachel Phifer

Brilliant and fluent in too many languages  to count, 15 year old Sierra Wright can’t seem to communicate what is important to her in any language. April Wright stubbornly keeps an upbeat attitude for her daughter, but the camera stored deep in her closet won’t let her forget she’s let her own dreams slip away.

Just across the bridge, old Luca, scarred from his time in a Romanian gulag years before, has given up on people. But when Sierra finds him digging in his garden, despite his prickly edges, she wants to know more about him.

No one else is comfortable with the unpredictable old man spending time alone with Sierra, not even Luca's son. Yet it is this unconventional relationship that will bring two families together to form friendships and unearth their family stories, stories that just might give them all the courage to soar on wings toward a new future.


       April knew she’d find her daughter close to home. That’s why she didn’t search the streets of Houston when the school called this time. And as expected, she found Sierra sitting in the apartment courtyard with her back against the willow tree. Oblivious to the cars speeding by and the crowded apartments surrounding her, she wrote in a notebook with utter concentration.
     It wasn’t until Sierra noticed her blocking the light that she glanced up. They looked at each other for what seemed like a long minute before Sierra spoke. “I couldn’t stay there, Mom.”
     As she lifted her face to the sun, it took on a quality that didn’t belong on a fifteen-year-old. April lowered herself to Sierra’s level, taking a moment to balance on her pumps. “You couldn’t stay in school because …?”
     Sierra sent her a pleading look.
     “Sierra,” April insisted.
     “It’s not like my old school. There aren’t any windows in most of my classrooms. It’s so dark.”
     There it was—the best explanation her daughter could offer for skipping school. Again. Sierra, with her knowledge of languages. But she never could seem to find the words she needed most.
     As they talked, Sierra’s hand kept moving across the notebook in her lap. Writing by touch and not by sight, she guided the pen right and then left, then down. Every now and then she’d stop to hem a section of her strange script in black boxes.
     “Baby, you’ve got to talk to me eventually.”
     “I am talking to you.” But Sierra looked into the distance, tracking the movements of a cat, a blur of white that leaped from balcony to balcony. And her pen still moved.
     April tried not to hate the symbols on Sierra’s page—Hebrew, Greek, an occasional column of hieroglyphs. Pages of archaic languages were absorbing more and more of her time. The girl had filled reams of paper with ancient words since they’d moved.
     April sighed. Only on the news did people disappear in an instant. One minute a girl was walking to her bus stop. The next she was gone. Cable stations broadcast the missing child’s photo nationwide. Crews searched the woods. Everyone mourned when a child disappeared in a flash.
     Not so the slow disappearances. No one called a press conference when Sierra’s grades began plummeting, when she dropped each of her friends one by one or refused to make new friends when they moved to Houston. The alarms on the school doors didn’t go off when she left in the middle of the day. The policeman at the front entrance didn’t even notice her leaving.
     Only a computerized phone call alerted April to Sierra’s skipping classes at all.
     There was no need to make threats or offer encouraging words. April had tried them all since they moved here last January. And Sierra was smart enough to understand the risks of skipping school—the danger of the streets where they lived, the potential failure to graduate, trouble with the police.
     Instead of the old standbys, April looked through Sierra’s letters until she found a familiar one—a hieroglyph in the shape of an eye. “I see you, baby.”
     That caught Sierra’s attention. She looked directly at April and blinked.
     The school might not notice Sierra’s disappearing act. Maybe friends were nonexistent. Sometimes it seemed that God Himself had found someone more newsworthy to save. But it was impossible to disappear with a witness.

     April underlined the hieroglyph with her index finger. “You are not invisible. I would have seen you walking past me if I’d been at the school. I see you, Sierra. Okay?”

About The Author

Rachel Phifer is the author of the contemporary novel, The Language of Sparrows. As the daughter of missionaries, Rachel grew up in four different countries (U.S., Malawi, South Africa and Kenya) and managed to attend eleven schools by the time she graduated from high school. She holds a BA in English and psychology and now makes her home in Houston with her family. Rachel’s childhood plays into her writing as she loves to help her characters travel their storylines to find home in the truest sense.

Purchase The Language Of Sparrows at:

Rachel Phifer is giving away a copy of The Language Of Sparrows. To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You can enter the book giveaway twice—once on each Spotlight post for the author. Please note: The giveaway is for U.S. addresses only.


Judy Cooper said...

I am new to your blog and already enjoying it so much. So much to enjoy! Please enter my name in the drawing for The Language of Sparrows. Thank you.

Judy Cooper said...

So new that I didn't follow all directions. Judy Cooper,

Karen said...

Welcome to the Loft, Judy!

Patty said...

Sounds like a very interesting book!


Cindi A said...

This looks like an unusual storyline. I'm looking forward to reading this book.


sharon m said...

I also am an MK from Nigeria and attended 6 different schools by the time I graduated from High School.
I would love to win and read your book The Language of Sparrows! sharon, ca wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Linda Kish said...

This sounds like an interesting story. Count me in, please.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Thanks Karen for having Rachel on your blog. I think she's had an interesting life and would love to win her book. Just found out she lives nearby to where I live, Please enter me to win her book. Thanks!
MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

Teela said...

Rachel, somehow I missed what brought you to Houston. Why move there? Would love to win your book. Thanks, teelayoung at hotmail dot com

Rachel said...

Hi, Sharon. It's nice to see a fellow MK. Teela, my mother's family is from Houston, so once I graduated from high school, I decided to attend college to be near them, and have stayed ever since.

squiresj said...

I would love to win and review this book. Then I would share it with someone else. That is what I do. So please enter me
jrs362 at Hotmail dot com

rubynreba said...

Looks like a very interesting book. Thanks!

Veronica Sternberg said...

Such a unique plot! I'd love to read it! shopgirl152nykiki(at)yahoo(dot)com

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