I must confess that for some years I've thought of Janette Oke books to be nice, but rather simple in plot, easy to read, but more like chocolates for Christian women, something to nibble on while doing other, more important things.
However, I've just finished a small pile of them, and must say that I was really drawn in emotionally. This book particularly, led me to identify with the older sister in a way that astonished me. No doubt there are many other older sisters who have had similar experiences of being the responsible one, while the younger sister gets all the attention and adoration.
What I liked especially, was Oke's mature and fair treatment as to how these attitudes are nurtured and developed over many years. She traces Berta's from the time she was three and waiting for her younger sister Glenna to be born, right through to when Berta was in her 30s and becoming like the spinster librarian she was assisting. Her awakening to the problem came gradually too. She did not get transformed suddenly.
But oh, I was glad to see how gracefully and tactfully, Oke handled that transformation. This book would be emotionally helpful to any woman who finds herself feeling like she is the plain sister in the background, always being there for others, but feeling short-changed in other ways or when comparing herself to more forward siblings. - Do not avoid this book if you are in that position. You will do yourself a favour to read this book, The Bluebird and the Sparrow.
I found the resolution satisfying. Yes, I shed some tears, but they were of a cleansing kind.
There is romance in this book as well, but it is woven in so subtly, and appropriately for the characters; not something tossed in gratis, so it can be sold in the romance category.
Again, I must say as a writer, I gained a lot of respect for Oke with this book. The writing is mature, and so professionally well done, that one only notices the characters which have come to life.
It almost makes me wonder if Oke has had personal experiences along this line. It is handled so realistically.