“Love has a way of working out in the end. It’s not worth having if it doesn’t take a bit of effort.”
Notice: this book is expected to release today, October 9th, 2019. I was approved for an eARC of the book through NetGalley. This does not affect my opinions of the work.
As the cold winter nights draw in, escape to the sleepy town of Wrenwick, where the streets sparkle with snow and a lonely young widow is about to find that true love really can strike twice…
As Christmas cheer fills Sparrow Street with excitement, grieving widow Nina is having a hard time. December is always a difficult month to face without her beloved husband Gray, the days feel long and bleak, and to cap it all, she’s just lost her job.
So when Nina hears that Sparrow Street’s Community Garden, one of Gray’s favourite places, is to be put up for sale she knows she must do something. Filled with purpose, she gathers the residents of Sparrow Street around her to turn the neglected patch of land into a Garden of Memories.
Working with her neighbours, single mum Kelly and eighty-year-old Ada, Nina soon finds that she’s not the only lonely soul on Sparrow Street. And as the community comes together and the garden flourishes, Nina can’t help but be drawn to Irish gardener Colm with his sparkling blue eyes and kind heart, finding herself confiding in him about all her recent troubles.
But just as Colm and Nina grow closer and he opens up to her about his own secret loss, Colm’s estranged wife returns from Scotland, wanting to try again. Nina knows she should let the man she’s falling for go – it’s the right thing to do. But what if fate has other plans in store? Will the beautiful garden on Sparrow Street have brought two people together only for Nina’s cautious heart to push them apart?
By itself, romance is not a genre that I tend to read. However, when I saw that this ARC was available to be requested on NetGalley, I decided to branch from my comfort zone.
What initially drew me in about The Garden on Sparrow Street was the winter/Christmas setting. At the time, I was actively looking for a winter book that I could love and reread as much as I have with Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. I’ve reread that book multiple times over the years during Christmas, but this year, I wanted to try something new.
The Garden On Sparrow Street is a lovely novel that has a real human dimension to it. The characters experience real-world phenomena such as the pain of becoming a widow and learning to live without your former spouse, the confusion that comes with appropriate grieving length and when to move on, how to move on with children involved, etc. There is so much realness to the plot, and I felt immersed in the characters’ lives the entire time.
The community aspect of this book was lighthearted and refreshing as well. It demonstrated the power in rallying others to support a cause that has importance, even if the importance is not appreciated by all. The community is also vibrant in diversity, with ages ranging from Nina’s mid-30s to Aida and Martha in their elderly years. Each resident of Sparrow Street had a distinct personality, with individual opinions and suggestions on how to go about the garden restoration project.
There are two things I’d like to highlight about this book. The first is the excellent parent-child relationship between Colm and his daughter Polly. In the wake of his wife’s and her mom’s absence, Colm and Polly grow close together as father and daughter and have a relationship built on trust and love. It was so very special to me to see this on-page healthy parental relationship. Though I recognize that this is not a young adult novel, I carry the perspective of a primarily YA reader, and healthy parental relationships is something I am not graced by often in that genre.
The second aspect I’d like to highlight is how gracefully the introduction of daughter to dad’s new girlfriend was executed. The adults in this book are very respectful of personal boundaries of both each other and each other’s children. I loved every moment of it. Here’s a quote to highlight this idea, it’s Nina talking about Colm’s daughter Polly:
[Nina] “I do worry that I’m being compared to her mum and I hope she doesn’t think I’m trying to replace her because I’d never do that. All I want is to be a new part of her life, someone she feels she can spend time with and come to if she ever needs help or advice. If she’ll have me, that is.”
And finally: the romance. I really enjoyed the fact that Nina does not magically forget her former spouse Gray ever existed in order to be with Colm. She is open and honest about her previous marriage with him (and he is likewise with her,) and she lets him know if certain topics are still sore. That said, I also appreciate the fact that Nina visits Gray’s grave to grieve and make peace with moving on from their marriage. It felt genuine and healing.
Once the romance with Nina and Colm begins, it is playful, respectful, and uplifting. They are truly a complementary pair. I was rooting for them from beginning to end.
“Nina smiled. There was no doubt in his expression at all, only absolute certainty that they had a future well beyond tonight.”
The Garden on Sparrow Street pushed me out of the YA genre for a week and allowed me to experience healthy, on-page adult relationships that I sometimes crave but don’t see in that genre. This book also has so many social commentaries that could be points of discussion, and finally, I can refer back to this book for said social commentaries and recommend it for its cozy, winter atmosphere.