Sparrow Fisher is transforming. No longer dressed up in antiquated clothes and ideals, she is finally trying on her freedom.
Before she moves to New York City, she meets Ian Sterling, a musician Sparrow has dreamed about since she first saw him. The attraction is instant, but their relationship isn’t so simple.
Over a five year span, Sparrow and Ian run into each other in unusual places, and each time, Sparrow has to decide if she can trust him, if he feels the same for her, and finally, if love is really enough.
“What I didn’t tell Ian about seeing him the first time was that I cried the whole time he played. I had never heard anything so beautiful. I found his name on a program and thought it fit him perfectly. When I got home, I took out my journal titled Important Things that Happened in my 14th Year and wrote: I Saw Ian Sterling. I’ve been looking for him ever since.”
Fictional stories rarely surprise me anymore these days. Maybe I read too much, maybe my very vivid imagination has entertained every possible scenario, one way or another. Maybe I had started believing that it had all been done before. Until I read this book. I dove in expecting great storytelling, nothing more, and I walked away with my mind spinning in so many directions, everything I thought I had believed about relationships and true love having been shaken, questioned, stretched beyond my own limits of familiarity. I don’t know how I expected this story to unfold, but I certainly did not expect it to make me question the one thing I have always believed I knew the answer to – whether love indeed conquers all.
This is the story of a young woman, Sparrow, and her tumultuous love affair with the only man she has ever loved, Ian. The story carries us over a five year period, following the ups and downs of the young couple who quite simply define the concept of soul mates. What starts as a playful game of courting, soon develops into a genuinely loving and doting bond between two people who naturally gravitate towards one another. They love each other completely, obsessively, uncontrollably.
“I think of everything I have ever loved, possessed, wanted, worked for, hoped for, treasured in my life. I love you more.”
Ian is Sparrow’s first love. He is the first man to whom she gives her heart freely, entrusting him with all the innocence and untainted devotion of someone who has never experienced heartbreak before. He consumes her every thought, dream, hope for the future. We watch them grow as a couple, slowly, believably. We fall in love with them, their innocent banter, their unquestionable tenderness and blind devotion to one another. We are bewitched by the chemistry between them and by how wonderful it feels to imagine ourselves in their shoes. But no love is uncomplicated and Ian and Sparrow’s love is no exception.
While Sparrow is inexperienced and idealistic when it comes to matters of the heart, Ian’s faith in love is stained by a childhood that was everything but idyllic. He does not believe himself capable of truly and selflessly loving another person, he mistrusts the longevity of love and he fears being rejected, hurt, not being loved enough.
“I’m not a good person, Sparrow. I … I’m not. I look at you and I see all the good and I know that I could never deserve someone like you.”
Sparrow is the first woman in his life that has ever made him believe he could have it all – a love that knows no boundaries; a love that would never fail him and that would always be enough. She makes him want to change and be a better man for her, but ultimately, his self-doubts and ingrained scepticism force their relationship in a direction neither of them willingly take.
Their journey is one constant roller coaster ride, oscillating between intense moments of happiness and gut-wrenching episodes of heartbreak. It’s a story that had me clenching my hand against my chest so many times, willing myself not to cry. The gentle pace of the relationship unfolding before us pulls us in like a magnet, never knowing which direction it would take, what the author’s stance on love really is. She has created a gentle hero, a hero that is both fallible and infallible at the same time. He loves with such intensity of emotion, such openness and devotion. He is romantic, attentive, affectionate, demonstrative, shamelessly in love with our heroine, committed to her body and soul. But by idolising her, he creates unrealistic expectations of himself, constantly expecting himself to fail her, and eventually he does just that.
“Sparrow. You are perfect.”
“No, I’m not.”
“To me, you are.”
A book that is so impeccably and skilfully structured, a story that is so truthfully and touchingly told, Ms Aster’s writing style is something to take note of. It is flawless, original, and it awoke every romantic bone in me. It is a story about the enduring power of love, about forgiveness and finding our own version of happiness in life. It’s an untraditional love story but it is an epic one nonetheless. By every standard possible, this book is an absolute must read.
“No pain, no rejection, no separation, no depression, no opposition, no fiery hell can drive you out of my heart.”
✤ ✤ ✤
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