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The Absence of Sparrows

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3.61  ·  Rating details ·  228 ratings  ·  66 reviews
Advance Readers Copy

Stranger Things meets Alfred Hitchcock in this haunting coming-of-age novel about a plague that brings the world to a halt, and one boy's belief that his town's missing sparrows can save his family.

In the small town of Griever's Mill, eleven-year-old Ben Cameron is expecting to finish off his summer of relaxing and bird-watching without a hitch. But eve
...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.61  · 
Rating details
 ·  228 ratings  ·  66 reviews


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Stefanie
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thrilling story that will grab you from the very first page! The story begins with Ben and his brother , climbing onto the roof of their uncle’s garage for their regular seedpod tossing competition. Their game gets interrupted when unusually dark storm clouds roll in. When they climb down, they realize the clouds have caused their neighbor to turn to glass. They soon realize this glass plague has hit countries all around the world. Ben and his family try to carry on with their life, all while ...more
Shauna Holyoak
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was stunning, in content and prose. You don't see many truly frightening, horror middle-grade novels, and this definitely qualifies. But beyond being a scary apocalyptic novel, this book takes an honest look at grief, family and who you can turn to when things really get bad. This book drew me in from the first chapter, and I'm still thinking about it long after I finished it. One of my top middle-grade reads this year, I highly recommend this book.
Josh
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read a lot of middle grade fiction, and THE ABSENCE OF SPARROWS isn't just one of my favorite middle grade books of 2019, it's one of my favorites of any year. Typically I choose my middle grade reads based on what my kids (ages 12 and 10) read and rave about. In this case, my 12-year-old son told me, "Dad, you HAVE to read this so we can talk about it." How do you say no to that?

THE ABSENCE OF SPARROWS is apocalyptic in scale, but it's also laser-focused on the fates of just a handful of char
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Mrs. Branscome
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I still process this book, I enjoy the concept and know my students will be frustrated with a fuzzy ending. Sometimes they need a fuzzy ending. This is one of those books that when you apply your own experiences to the story, it changes meaning. You feel for Ben, Pete, Mom, and Dad. A solid middle grade read with clean language and kids being kids.
Darby Karchut
Oct 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holy moly, did I love this story! The whole creepy, atmospheric Twilight Zone meets Alfred Hitchcock vibe kept me turning the pages as fast as I could. I read it along with my middle school book club and the students couldn't stop talking about it, especially the ending, which threw us all for a loop. In a totally good way. Can't wait to see what Kurt Kirchmeier writes next.
Kristen
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This reads like a kids' version of a Stephen King novella... something like The Langoliers or The Mist.
Sandy
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book explores some deep issue regarding human existence, religion and science in an accessible and layered way. I found the family dynamics, especially the relationship between Peter and Ben, engrossing and real. And, I absolutely loved all the bird facts!
Serena Powell
*I won this book through a Goodreads Giveaway, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.)

What started out as a rather interesting book, very quickly became a horrible car crash that there wasn't any recovering from.

The synopsis of the book promised something new, exciting, and mysterious. A blackness in the sky that's turning people into "glass"? Sounds super intriguing, and it was, well for the first 100 or so pages. I had a multitude of various issues with this book, but I'm choosing to focus
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Kerry Johnson
(Review from my son)

I'm 14, and I enjoy stories that deal with an ordinary person suddenly uprooted and throw into an extraordinary situation. An Absence of Sparrows not only accomplishes this in an exciting and realistic way, but it also does so originally, avoiding all of the clichés found in many stories. Similar to Kenneth Oppel's The Nest in terms of a brilliantly unique pot, An Absence of Sparrows deals with a desperate world frantically searching for a way to stop mysterious and deadly ev
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Kristin Crouch
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thank you to the author for providing Collabookation a copy of The Absence of Sparrows to review.
Wow! This book gets right to the action, and stays steady all the way through. Ben and his brother are busy doing the things kids in the country do, coming up with new contests and keeping out of trouble. One day, when they're on the roof of their uncles auto repair shop, the sky darkens and a local community member turns to glass. Yup.
We soon find out this is a global phenomenon~ glassification. An
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Lynn
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still thinking about the ending, which is the point, I am sure and I am not certain yet whether I am satisfied or dissatisfied. Whichever way I land, this was an immersive book with so much to admire. The tension builds slowly to such an intense level and results in a compelling urge to turn the pages.

I particularly enjoyed the relationship and interactions of the two young brothers. Ben, the younger and first person narrator of the story, is a quiet, observant and thoughtful child while his old
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Emily
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a weird book. I like that the glass plague was never explained; the language was lovely to read, and I feel like having a concrete explanation would have ruined the dream-like feel. I still can't quite put my finger on why this didn't feel like a kids' book. It's appropriate for kids, but I just feel like it works for an adult audience. Reminded me of The Dreamers or The Ocean at the End of the Lane. ...more
Kate
This story was poignant, heartbreaking, gripping and tense. The family relationships were well written. The tension between the brothers as they tried to determine the fate of their father, had a “Lord of the flies” intensity. There are some beautiful passages of language.

Life is inexplicable. Bad things happen to good people. But we need to hold on to hope and faith.

I’m in bed today with a chest infection. The compelling audiobook filled my day.

Wendy MacKnight
Feb 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
A riveting page turner about moral ambiguity that will be adored by its young readers!
Sylvia
Dec 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A creepy, atmospheric novel about Ben, an 11-year old bird-watcher who deals with his family falling apart in the midst of an unexplained, supernatural plague that randomly turns people into glass statues. The language is lushly written and conveys a dreamlike, Hitchcockian quality, as Ben deals with love, loss, and trauma. Recommended for middle grade readers ready for more complexity.
Shannon Balloon
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great writing, interesting plot, scary but not too scary. The first half of the book had me turning pages and unable to put the book down, the second half had me intrigued, and the ending did not disappoint.
Lindsay Thiessen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
M. Velasco
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
To me, this is a slice-of-life story that takes place during an apocalypse, a slow burn with tension on every page.
Ben is intelligent and thoughtful. I especially love when he thinks about birds, a way to connect himself to the natural word under siege by a supernatural phenomenon.
The other characters are great, too. I became heartbroken for Ben's older brother, Pete, as he was being influenced by a mysterious voice on the radio. He's a good brother, but sometimes, good brothers lose their way.
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Arielfranchakyahoo.com
The writing was beautiful and the concept was intriguing, but I didn’t completely love the story itself. I listened to the audiobook and I enjoyed it enough to finish it, but the ending left me confused. After listening to the last three chapters a second time, it made more sense, but I just wished things ended differently. Although, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the resolution, I keep thinking about it as I continue to process this story.

One of my favorite lines from this book was,
“...fro
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Alexis
I am a huge fan of dystopian literature and I was so glad to pick up a new middle grade book in that genre. I was immediately drawn into this book with the mystery of the birds and what was happening. This book had a great balance of heart break and hope.

I received this ARC as part of my Lit Review Crew.
Danielle Katz
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A scary coming of age story. It’s spooky and ethereal and the main character is dealing with family issues and identity issues. I think this will be that book that everyone is going to be talking about.
Kerri Davidson
Jul 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read! I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of apocalyptic/middle grade reading... And bird knowledge.
Interesting concept!
Jeanine
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book. Sort of a mix between paranormal mystery and just a book about people and growing up.
Heidi
Sep 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent debut novel. Quite disturbing but with a lot of reflections on life, death, religion, right, wrong, family and loss. A book I will easily recommend to students in grade six and up.
Kim
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At turns strange, foreboding, creepy, and frustrating - I really liked it! No easy answers, which will really frustrate some readers, but I love having something to think about and have kids debate.
Colline Vinay Kook-Chun
The Absence of Sparrows is a well-written story that perfectly suits the 9 years and up age group. The language is clear and not too wordy; the dialogue interesting and easily understood. As an adult, I could not help but become immersed in the story; and I can imagine a 10 year old engrossed in the story in order to find out what will happen.

The novel has a bit of an apocalyptic feel to it as it describes a plague that brings the world to a standstill. The main character, Ben Cameron, is a 10 y
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Taylor (Taylor Talks Tales)
This was a very interesting novel with a unique take on an apocalyptic disaster scenario where certain people are turned into black glass and frozen in place after these weird storms blow around all over the world. Sometimes the people come back but they aren't the same. It follows an eleven year old boy named Ben who is obsessed with birds and likes hanging out with his older brother Pete (who is actually just a year older). Things start happening early on in the book when a storm blows in and ...more
Leah
Gripping and painful, this book deals with the human experiences of an apocalypse. There are no real answers and many hard topics are examined.

All by an 11 year old boy.

I think this is an amazing book, although, I have no idea how it will do with the age group it is meant for. Will they like it? Will it be too much? It was almost too much for me for a vast percentage of the book. I'm not sure who to recommend this to. Definitely not to sensitive souls.

Regardless of me not being the intended a
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Jes Trudel
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
P.M.
Jun 27, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This one was a disappointment. I was all set for a great apocalyptic adventure. The premise was great - a dark storm cloud roils over the land and turns random adults into glass statues. There was even a word for that - glassification. I really enjoyed all of the facts about birds. However, my dislikes outweighed the likes. I wanted an ending - an explanation for what happened. Who was the voice on the radio? Did the shattering work? What was up with those missing sparrows? Why did Dad glow befo ...more
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