Catch the Sparrow: A Search for a Sister and the Truth of Her Murder

Bloomsbury. Feb. 2022. 256p. ISBN 9781635577235. $27. CRIME
In 1991 Stephanie Kupchynsky, the author’s stepsister, disappeared from her apartment in Greece, NY, before a trip; her bones were found years later in a nearby county. Although they never met (Stephanie had already gone missing when Rear’s mother married Stephanie’s father), Rear (a public-school language arts teacher, writing her first book) felt drawn to her stepsister and compelled to tell her story. As Rear explored Stephanie’s life, particularly the days leading up to her death, she discovered similarities between her own life and her stepsister’s, which deepens her connection. Rear describes the investigation into the disappearance, particularly the lengths that Stephanie’s loved ones went to in order to find her. Police suspicion eventually fell on Ed Laraby, a maintenance worker in Stephanie’s apartment complex who’d been previously convicted of rape, and police obtained a confession from him. Rear’s work is both thoroughly researched and deeply intimate as she details her own life, speculates about Laraby’s mindset, and conveys the impact of Stephanie’s death on friends and family.
VERDICT An insightful, moving tribute that will resonate with readers who appreciate a blend of true crime and memoir, such as Ellen McGarrahan’s Two Truths and a Lie.
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