Thoughts About Sparrows by Carolyn Walker, Author of Every Least Sparrow
By Carolyn Walker
Funny the things you remember: I stood waiting to cross traffic once in 1969, at the university where I was a student, when a Volkswagen Beetle approached. They were all the rage in the ‘60s. My roommate was beside me. She’d never paid much attention to Beetles, she said, until she started dating Russell. He drove a Beetle, and now, she realized in her young-adult epiphany, they were everywhere.
This year, 2017, the year of my memoir’s publication, I have a similar realization about sparrows. They infiltrate my existence, and I’m paying attention. I see them pecking at the grass, or on sidewalks, and I hear the cacophony of their chirps fill the trees. I notice them when it seems like the hot pavement must be burning their feet, and when my bird feeder has grown near empty. There they are, hopping about, looking plaintive and playful at the same time, waiting for me to provide seed that will help satiate their hunger.
I’ve always liked birds, but in the past I noticed sparrows the least, these modest little brown and beige beings. It was easier and (I thought) more pleasant to fix my gaze on red-breasted robins, those harbingers of Spring, or the more rarely seen cardinals in their brilliant reds, or blue jays, equally brilliant in their blues.
It took me years to name my memoir, Every Least Sparrow. For a long time, I thought seriously about the title Circling Jennifer: A Mother/Daughter Odyssey. Those words seemed to capture the round-about journey Jennifer and I took from her birth with disabilities to her wholeness as an adult.
Then a friend observed that another author had titled her book something similar. I lost interest in Circling Jennifer then, the same way my mother lost interest in her new cedar chest when her sister compared it to a coffin.
(We humans are strange animals, the way we react to the power of suggestion, the power of association, the power of words.)
I began to first ponder the title Every Least Sparrow while at a poetry convention. There, the poet Kimberly Johnson read from her poem Easter, Looking Westward. “Every least sparrow a visible sign,” she read, standing at a lectern before a room full of eager writers. My friend Margo and I exchanged knowing glances. “That’s your title,” she said. “It fits.”
Now I can’t help myself. I see a sparrow when I look at Jennifer, though not because of the slope of her Rubinstein-Taybi eyes, or her beak-shaped nose. What I see is the sparrow in her humble, happy life.
Every Least Sparrow (ON SALE on Amazon, 20% off, $14.35)
Author: Carolyn Walker
Book: Every Least Sparrow
Garn Press (226 pp.)
$27.95 hardcover, $14.35 paperback, $9.99 e-book. Ebook $2.99 through Kindle Matchbook Program
Buy: Amazon (on sale on Amazon $14.35)| Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Waterstones | Books-A-Million | Indigo Books
Five Star Amazon Book Reviews
“Every Least Sparrow” is one of those rare books that combines honesty, depth, tears and laughter. Carolyn Walker unflinchingly tackles the subject of raising a challenged child. There are intimate scenes of every aspect of family life centering on the raising of Jennifer, who brings her own bright spirit into all that she touches. It’s such lyrical writing about such a difficult subject, that I couldn’t put it down.” – Amazon Customer, AMAZON
“Every Least Sparrow has, among moments of trepidation and sorrow, incredible moments of joy and brilliance. It’s an account of love and amazement. It reminds me that, as parents, we we wish the best for the children, and hope that they will grow to be wise, but their existence and purpose in life is their own, and the way they view the world is independent from us. The best we can do is nurture and love them and then let them fly.” – Amazon Customer, AMAZON
“A wonderful story that chronicles the joys and sorrows of parenting a disabled child. You realize Jennifer is a child filled with love for others and enjoys life to its fullest. The story will leave you feeling hopeful! I highly recommend it!” – Amazon Customer, AMAZON
“This is a very touching and heart-felt story that reveals both the anguish and the deep love and joy of caring for a sweet disabled child. It is surprisingly uplifting and is amazingly honest and very readable. I highly recommend this great book.” – Amazon Customer, AMAZON
“This book will be mandatory reading and discussion for resident dentists in my training program, and I will recommend it nationally through our professional groups. Nurses, special education teachers, physicians-especially pediatricians, counselors, social workers, and clergy will all learn from the experiences of this family.” – Amazon Customer, AMAZON
“Great read you will find yourself inspired by Jennifer and her family. This book would make a wonderful addition to any medical or nursing school experience.” – Amazon Customer, AMAZON
“What a wonderful book! I could feel all the ups and downs of raising a child with special needs and my heart just exploded with joy as Jennifer grew-up. Through it all I fell in love with Jennifer and was so engaged with her parents and their trials and tribulations. It was an engaging read and anyone who has raised a child with special needs will definitely relate to this book.” – Amazon Customer, AMAZON
“This is a wonderful and touching book that takes us into the world of disability –a world most of us know little about. The experience of actually entering this world is unforgettable. Jennifer Walker, born with RT Syndrome, teaches us all the importance of experiencing life with an attitude of “yes, I can.” Her spirit is amazing. You cannot help but admire her zest for life and fall a bit in love with this determined girl. Kudos to Carolyn Walker, Jennifer’s mother, for writing a book that is both heartwarming and heartbreaking.” – Amazon Customer, AMAZON
“Ms. Walker is a talented writer and her family story is all the better for it. A challenged child also challenges our capacity for joyousness … beautifully written . This is a must read not only for those who live with or work with special people but also those who appreciate a good book!” – Amazon Customer, AMAZON
“Every Least Sparrow is heartbreaking, funny, and uplifting. Carolyn Walker tells her story with unflinching honesty and a notable absence of self-pity or melodrama. Beginning with the unusual birth of her unusual daughter, Jennifer, this well-crafted story pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until Jennifer grows up. The entire journey, fraught with frustration, despair and determination, is also saturated with love, not a thin, saccharine love but rather a robust, hard won, fierce and eternal kind of love. Beautifully written, a compelling read.” – Amazon Customer, AMAZON
“Beautifully written, an ispiring story of a mothers search for answers. Would be a helpful guide for anyone dealing with the unexpected consequences of a disabled child.” – Amazon Customer, AMAZON
“This book is so honest and raw and beautiful. It gives you an intimate, real-life view of a family riding the waves of raising and living with a special needs child. It is both joyful and heartbreaking. Carolyn weaves such detail into her writing that you feel like you are there, in the moments she spent raising her daughter, Jennifer. This book is an inspiring read for parents and families with special needs children and, truly, a wonderfully shared journey that will capture and uplift any reader.” – Amazon Customer, AMAZON
“Grace, courage and steadfast love is what you’ll find in Carolyn Walker’s new book. Unflinchingly truthful and at times emotionally wrenching, Walker describes growing up her daughter Jennifer, with RT syndrome, to independent living. This is a beautifully written many-layered book of family survival.” – Amazon Customer, AMAZON