The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney – a light but engaging YA paranormal

The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney – a light but engaging YA paranormal

When I read the premise for this book, I thought it sounded a bit like The Raven Boys, one of my favorite books ever.  It promised a house full of generational psychics and a narrator desperate to live any other life.  It sounded promising, but the thing was that it only took a few minutes to forget what I wanted the book to be.  I just embraced what I was given – quirky characters, persistent ghosts, and a girl facing a crossroads.


Goodreads Summary

In high school, the last thing you want is for people to think you talk to ghosts.

When Sparrow begins tenth grade at a huge new school full of strangers, she thinks her dreams of anonymity and a fresh start are finally coming true. No more following in her six older sisters’ footsteps. No more going to class with kids who’ve seen her grandma doing jujitsu in the front yard next to the headstones of her four dead husbands. And no more worrying about keeping her deep, dark secret hidden.

Sparrow makes a new best friend and has her eye on an irritatingly appealing guy in her history class. She feels like she’s well on her way to a normal life. But it’s another boy–a dead one–who wants Sparrow’s attention, and he won’t let her be till she’s helped him Move On.

You see, Sparrow Delaney’s secret is that she’s a psychic. And there’s one very persistent ghost who won’t let her forget it.

My Thoughts

The biggest strength of this book is the narrator, Sparrow, who manages to make her unique concerns feel universally understandable.  She is bent on resisting the path laid out for her by her grandmother, her spirit guides, and even the (mis)fortune of her birth – she is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. She just wants to be normal, something most YA’s will understand.  I liked her voice, I loved her delightfully strange and interesting family, and I even understood her reluctance to let go of the lie she has used to shield herself for a decade.  The message, be true to yourself, might be an old one, but it is one that is paired well with Sparrow’s experience.

There isn’t really a mystery here – when folks show up as ghosts, it is clear they are dead.  We are even given a pretty clear picture of how.  The true question in this book is if Sparrow will cling to her story for the sake of being “normal” or if she will embrace the possibilities and purpose inherent in her gifts.

I genuinely enjoyed this book, enough to see if it had any companion books (not that I can find).  It isn’t the most complex story, and it definitely had a lighter tone than I expected, but it left me feeling satisfied and like the time I spent reading it was worth it.  I found this book on the Overdrive library that my high school maintains, so it was free (always a bonus), but if I had paid the $3.99 for the ebook, I still would have felt it was money well spent.  This is a clean read with no language and a chaste romance.  It is gentle enough for middle school readers, easy to connect with for older YA readers, and just funny enough that I found it engaging as an adult.

This book is available through Overdrive in the MHS library.


About queenbook

When the final bell rings, I stash those messy piles of essays and analysis assignments in a desk drawer and I head home to a pile of good books. My kids and dog eat too many chicken nuggets and the house could be neater, but as long as I get my daily read, I guess we are doing all right. When I was twelve and fifteen and eighteen and twenty, I believed I needed to get out there and do those things I had just been reading about, which ended in disaster, tears, a tattoo that scares me every time I catch a glimpse of it in the mirror, and the realization that some of us are meant for action, and some of us are meant to critique the pace of action in a book. I read primarily YA fiction as I have a rather hulking classroom library and a hundred high school readers to engage daily. Nothing makes me happier than coming to school and finding an impatient teenager waiting by my door to turn in a book and get another one just like it. I adore a good zombie, a medieval princess, or girl assassin (I would like them all in one book if you are a writer looking for some inspiration). I add historical mystery to my wish list a year in advance, and you should get out of my way when the next Outlander book comes out. I have an embarrassing fondness for rock star books, but only if they don’t get too trashy and embarrass me. My favorite book of all time is The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery. My book boyfriends include Gilbert Blythe, Alonzo Wilder, and Jamie Fraser. They are mine and you can’t have them.

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