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  • kjoannerixon


Hava is a damaged person. Damaged in just about all the ways a kid can be. And now she's on a boat, she's shipwrecked, she's in the far north on the ice just trying not to starve or lose her fingers and toes to the cold. She's just trying to keep her friends alive, which might be why, about halfway through this book, I couldn't stop thinking of Station Eleven.

"I remember damage."

It might be odd to compare SEASPARROW to Station Eleven, given that they're about completely different things, have completely different structures, and are written with completely different prose styles. But, for all that Seasparrow is YA and not the sort of book that wins literary awards, they have a lot in common.

The devastation that smashes you as a person, and then the carrying on afterward, not really a person anymore but still trying to be. Caring for the young, the weak and injured is the primary thing that keeps you alive--that's something the books have in common. The inability to clearly remember the damage that has destroyed you, that's another. The willingness to start new, to take elements of the old and completely reimagine them into something you can finally live with.

I don't know, Seasparrow is not about the end of the world, not really. It's about building a better one after overthrowing the old. It's about disaster producing the kind of world where tiny babies can be safe. I cried multiple times reading it even though it's like a hundred pages longer than it strictly needed to be.

Plus, there's a bonus bit of prison abolition, which is especially interesting given the quasi-medieval setting. About 5/6s of the way through the book, Hava confronts the woman who tried to kill her, who has been caught and imprisoned in the official prison run by Bitterblue:

"Maybe that's why I came down here: Because I'm struggling with the things people choose to do, and I'm also struggling with their fates. My sister has made changes to her prison in recent years. The cells are clean, the prisoners are uncrowded, their needs are met. Goldie even sings them lullabies, of all things, and as I sat there, I could smell a mix of cinnamon and cloves. Goldie burns herbs and spices in the stoves to make the air pleasant. I've never been inside a jail in Estill or Sunder, but I'm sure they're not like this.

And yet, it's dark, and Kera is cold, and she'll never see her daughter. Her walls are made of iron bars and stone, and nothing will ever change. I grew up in boxes in the dark. I learned what it was like to wait, and hope, for something that never happened. To suspend myself in a terrible dream, while nothing changed. And then things did change, to something worse.

Leck had cages for the animals he liked to hurt. Well, Bitterblue has cages too.

Kera did what she did. But do I want her to live in a cage?"


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