Monday, September 28, 2009

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Magnin - MY REVIEW

Soli Deo Gloria – “to God alone the glory.” (p. 22)

Have you ever read a story that was just a little too real? The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow by Joyce Maginin has sort of had that effect on me. The setting of this story is rural Pennsylvania, but it might as well be rural Alabama, or Georgia or any other small town in America. You see, the people in this story have created for themselves a work-based faith that has robbed them of life’s richest blessings. They have done something even worse, and placed the bulk of that misplaced faith upon the shoulders of a woman who already shoulders a burden too great for one heart to bear.

Agnes Sparrow is a lady whose physical size has trapped her inside her home with only her sister and her prayers to fill her days. Agnes prays for the people of Bright’s Pond, Pennsylvania almost continuously, and the residents have begun to give her the credit for miraculous events. When they determine to erect a sign and statue in her honor, Agnes and her sister Griselda tell the town that only God is responsible for these miracles, and they discourage this folly. Not long after the sign goes up, events in this small town take a rather dark turn, and of course, the people turn their wrath upon the one person they were once so determined to honor.

People are so eager to follow the crowd. Tell them a good secret, and it’s all over town. Tell them Agnes can pray down a miracle, and people line up to share their burdens. For all time it seems mankind has been determined to take credit for everything…even their own faith. Well, poor Agnes Sparrow has already faced enough heartache because of her size, and when it seems her prayers are no longer “getting through” people prove as fickle toward her in adulthood as they ever were during her childhood. Even Agnes herself has chosen to hide behind her own sins and keeps a secret that dramatically changes lives for many years.

The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow is an honest and quirky look into the human condition. It is also a grave reminder that without Christ – without placing our trust and faith in Him alone – all of our righteousness, even praying all day long, is as filthy rags. Agnes and Griselda Sparrow have spent a lifetime learning this very difficult and important lesson. The entire town of Bright’s Pond learns this lesson too, in a very painful way. This isn’t as light of a read as you are first led to believe. The characters are quirky, but real, and their behavior, is just a little too familiar. Ouch. A great lesson in true faith.

May we all live our lives….Soli Deo Gloria. The Prayers of Agnes Sparrow, read it today.


Joyce Magnin is the author of short fiction and personal experience articles. She co-authored the book, Linked to Someone in Pain. She has been published in such magazines as Relief Journal, Parents Express, Sunday Digest, and Highlights for Children. Joyce attended Bryn Mawr College and is a member of the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Fellowship.

She is a frequent workshop leader at various writer’s conferences and women’s church groups. She has three children, Rebekah, Emily, and Adam; one grandson, Lemuel Earnest; one son-in-law, Joshua, and a neurotic parakeet who can’t seem to keep a name. Joyce leads a small fiction group called StoryCrafters. She enjoys baseball, football, cream soda, and needle arts but not elevators. She currently lives in Havertown, Pennsylvania.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Kim! This is memorable!

The Book Club Network - TBCN said...

Thanks for letting me know about this book. I've seen it on the shelf. Good to know you take on it.

Blessings to you friend

Finding Hope Through Fiction