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Book Review - Clattering Sparrows by Marilyn S Land
by Marilyn S Land
About the Author
Marilyn Land was born in Brooklyn, New York. She grew up and attended school in Washington, D.C.; married and raised her family in Maryland. She now lives on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, with her husband Jack. She has been an avid Mahjong player for over fifty years.
The friendship between five-year-olds Sara Miller and Judy Levine begins in the summer of 1941, when their families move into adjoining row houses in Washington, D.C. Almost immediately, the United States enters World War II, and their childhood is thrust into a world dominated by the consequences of history. When asked to help their sick friend, Su Ling, keep up with her studies as she recuperates from rheumatic fever, her grandmother, An Lei, teaches them the ancient Chinese game of Mahjong, destined to become an invariable part of their lives as it merges cultures, love, and friendship.
Separated for the first time when they enter college, their personal choices, shaped and impacted by half a century of unparalleled wars, loss, and heartbreak, only bring them closer together, as they marry, raise their families, and pursue their chosen careers. Their lifelong journey, caught in a web of intricate and surprising twists of fate, surfaces in the public eye when a Ukrainian farm girl inadvertently unlocks a thirty-five-year mystery that has haunted them since their graduation from high school.
From coast to coast and across the globe, their heartwarming and compelling story confirms the powerful bond of friendship.
"A True friend reaches for your hand and touches your heart !"
Our Book Review
A very special and unique book that I thoroughly enjoyed. The book follows a very special bond of love and friendship between friends throughout their lives with the background of historic world events and unexpected events that are closer to home.
The book starts with an in-depth history and traditions of the game Mahjong, the translation is 'Clattering Sparrows' of which the book is named after, due to the sound made when the tiles are shuffled similar to numerous sparrows squabbling over food. Mahjong is in the overall theme of the book due to the main characters love of the game, a beautiful old set given to them by a special friend and their many afternoons and evenings playing together from being children up to adulthood.
The story introduces the reader to the 'Fabulous Five' group of close friends from the age of five, when they become neighbours, and throughout their lives as their close bond never fades away. The story begins with a shocking twist of fate that is kept secret and unfolds throughout the book. An emotional read at times covering unconditional love, loss, happiness and sadness, the book reads like a biographical story. I must admit that after a few chapters I found it hard to actually put the book down as I wanted to learn more as the stories secrets begin to unravel.
As I read the second half of the book, without saying too much and spoiling it for you, my admiration went out to Irina, a Ukranian farmers wife who's life was devastatingly affected by Chernobyl, who's strength in character and devotion to her husband brings the story together and allows the stories characters to move on with their lives, I felt she had been exceptionally brave at the decisions she had made.
Towards the back of the book you are also treated to a couple of pages of friendship poems, Chinese year of the Rat, 1936, and Author Notes. A very pleasant and enjoyable read with twists that connects the stories characters in unexpected ways.