Sapphire the Great and the Meaning of Life by Beverley Brenna

Oh my gosh! Brenna hit a home run with the book! It grabs you by the throat and pulls you in on the very first page, and doesn’t let go of your heartstrings until the last page. Better have some tissues handy (good tears…not bad).

The story is told through short alternating chapters between Jeannie and Sapphire the Great (her hamster). 

We join Jeannie, Alistair (her brother), and their mother three weeks after Christmas and two weeks after their father left, Harvey, left the house. Everyone is dealing with the separation in different ways. Jeannie yells everything, Alistair has turned to video games, and their mother is feeling very stressed. 

Sapphire is a white hamster with bright blue eyes that spends its day in the pet shop contemplating the meaning of life. For Jeannie, it was love at first site. On their way home, the family’s car is struck by a Ford truck driven by Anna Conda. Alistair knows there is something off about this “woman”, but his mother knows her from her job, and they strike up a neighborly relationship. 

Everyone is meant to be exactly who they are, but sometimes the journey there takes us to places we never thought of, yet we end up exactly where we need to be. For the characters in this book, it is a skating rink with friends and family who all learned that love and friendship come in all shapes, sizes, and combinations. For Sapphire, it meant being free, loved, and cared for inside a warm, cozy cage filled with fresh shavings and food. 

This book has left me at a loss for words in a very good way. The characters are so engaging, honest, and real that you forget you are reading a book. There are many excellent points made in the story, but my favorite line comes from Tom, Alistair’s new friend who happens to be the son of their father’s boyfriend, “The word normal doesn’t really apply to people. It only applies to the weather and stuff like that.” Truer words have never been written. 

The story is complete, satisfying, and just feels right.

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