Friday, December 27, 2013

Book Review: On Sparrow Hill

by: Cherie Gagnon

I've reviewed this book before and it's a few years old, but it is one of my favorites. My day job is the role of a disability advocate, so this book was particularly interesting to me.

In addition to advocate, I’m a mother with two beautiful and amazing boys who happen to be affected by disability. The oldest has a severe neurological condition, Schizencephaly, and the other has Autism. As a general rule, I usually avoid books which talk about children with disabilities. I simply think people who haven’t walked in my shoes cannot capture a life like mine, although, as writers this is something we try to do all the time.

On Sparrow HillBut I did pick up this type of book recently and was captivated. This novel is called On Sparrow Hill, written by Maureen Lang. What makes this story ring true is that the author actually lives a life similar to mine, raising a son with Fragile X syndrome.

On Sparrow Hill is a well-written and heart-warming tale anyone would appreciate. The overall plot revolves around an estate manager and an heir who are drawn together as they unearth family history. The story plays back and forth between a thread in the present to a thread set in the1800's. There is romance and mystery.

Additionally, woven throughout the novel is a glimpse into the life of children with intellectual delays in the nineteenth century, as well as current day. Anyone who has a child with challenges would enjoy the message of hope and faith.

For those who know others walking this path, it would enhance appreciation and understanding of what families face on an ongoing basis. Maureen also draws out the difficult range of emotions parents may experience, but also the moments of joy. There is pleasure in the little things that often get overlooked and valuable lessons that our children teach us.

I love the quote on the introductory page:
“Nature has some perfections to show that she is the image of God, and some defects to show that she is only His image.” – Blaise Pascal

I'm very grateful to Ms. Lang for opening her heart and penning such a beautiful story of unconditional love.

If you are a person living with a disability or you care for a person with a disability, what is one thing you wish the world knew?


  1. Thanks for sharing, Cherie. I think I might have this story. I'll have check again. :)

  2. My 37-year-old nephew has spina bifida and is in a wheel chair. While he lives independently, he doesn't have a big social life, and since he doesn't live near me, I can really help him there. I wish people would try to include people who are different when they are planning get togethers. Great post!

  3. Thanks for your insight, Patricia. While many people understand isolation is another matter. People with disabilities are often forgotten about or functions are held in a facility that a person in a wheelchair simply cannot access. You bring an excellent point that people with disabilities need to be loved, valued and embraced by their community...many would be surprised what gifts and enrichment differently abled people bring to others.

  4. You don't have to yell when you talk to me. I have heard this from disabled people and think it is a good one. sharon, wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com