by Andrea Dejean
WINNER OF THE 2020
OSPREY AWARD for FICTION
With Sphinx, Andrea Dejean has given us a captivating novel of ecological mystery and environmental intrigue. Paulie takes over her late Grandfather's homestead in the rainforest of French Guiana just as her life seems to be running off the rails. The subsistence salary she earns there collecting Sphinx moth specimens for a former professor is just barely enough to keep her supplied with rice, raisins, limes, sardines and (far too often) rum, but the forest provides her a newfound sense of peace and comfort where others might feel fear and discomfort. That sense of security is threatened, however, after she becomes convinced someone is shooting at her in the forest and possibly trying to kill her, as improbable as it seems to her small circle of friends. She struggles to find the truth about what exactly is going on in the heart of the jungle . . . and in her own heart. Events quickly unfold as she is compelled into action in her search for clarity and redemption. In the end, the Sphinx moths teach her valuable lessons about friendship, courage and the stewardship of the fragile ecological system and complex economic environment of the Amazon rainforest.
"Sphinx resonated with me on so many levels because it involves the heroine acknowledging her mistakes, traveling to get away from her past; yet discovering something bigger than herself and finding friends who become family who support her (even when she hasn't showered in days). She reinvents herself, on her own terms and timeline, and created an opportunity for herself to find a purpose that impacts more than just her own life. The forest and the community that surrounded it became her purpose, when she did not know what she wanted or needed at that time in her life.
"Sphinx does a fantastic job of educating people on the environment and tells a story reinforcing why we should care about a forest in South America (or in any other place for that matter). It combines life lessons with the importance of taking care of one's surroundings. Short book with a big impact, which will result in great reviews and touch many lives. Definitely a book for everyone and not just environmentalists."
Environmental Educator, Nature & Wildlife Discovery Center
Andrea Dejean is the translator of the book On the Origins and Dynamics of Biodiversity: The Role of Chance by Alain Pavé (Springer 2010) and has published her own creative work in various literary journals. She lives in southwestern France.