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With the opening line of Silver Sparrow My father James Witherspoon is a bigamist author Tayari Jones unveils a breathtaking story about a man 's deception a family 's complicity and two teenage girls caught in the middle Set in a middle class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s the novel revolves around James Witherspoon 's two families the public one and the secret one When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship only one of them knows they are sisters It is a relationship destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered As Jones explores the backstories of her rich yet flawed characters the father the two mothers the grandmother and the uncle she also reveals the joy as well as the destruction they brought to one another 's livesAt the heart of it all are the two lives at stake and like the best writers think Toni Morrison with The Bluest Eye Jones portrays the fragility of these young girls with raw authenticity as they seek love demand attention and try to imagine themselves as women just not as their mothers


10 thoughts on “Silver Sparrow

  1. says:

    I had not intended to read this book so uickly or to stay up until 3 AM reading it but I was so caught up in this beautifully written touching story that I couldn't stop It's the kind of book that makes you want to discuss it with others right away I have admired Tayari Jones' writing since her first novel Leaving Atlanta A Novel and in my opinion her writing has only improved over time She is able to convey so much by the voices she creates for two girls with a common father given any sentence in the book the reader will immediately know which girl is speaking with no exaggerated accents or jarring class related characteristics Each girl tells her own story but at the same time their worlds inevitably overlap and collide As Chaurisse tells it having a shared father gave us something in common that looped around our ankles and pulled tight around our wrists This was between all of us The six of us were hog tied fastened in place by different knots James the bigamist; his daughters Dana and Chaurisse; his wives Gwendolyn and Laverne; his enigmatic best friend Uncle Raleigh all caught in a web of lies that must at some point unravel This is a story that rings with truth It is an exceptional book


  2. says:

    In Silver Sparrow we follow two sisters with different mothers who share the same father The girls are kept away from each other They grow up in seemingly similar circumstances but their father's disparate treatment of them results in different lives for the two of them When their paths finally intersect it leads to the unraveling of their father's carefully crafted familiesThe writing in here is beautiful evocative nuanced and weighty I found myself immersed in it unable to turn away There is so much said and unsaid so many emotions on the surface but also underneath The relationships in here are complex and fraught with peril and each person is doing the best they can given the circumstances but it often isn't enoughWhat drew me to this book initially is that it says it's about polygamy and I'm always fascinated by that Why would anyone willingly participate? What are the logistics? But this book isn't really about that When I think of polygamy everyone participating has to know they are doing so; otherwise it's just plain cheating right? So this book isn't about polygamy so much as it's about cheating But even then it doesn't adeuately address why the participants wanted to take part in all thatAnd while the story focuses on the two daughters I'm not sure I really grasped the point of it The narrative feels cohesive but ultimately leading nowhere And when it finally gets to the crux of the matter it ends abruptly without really resolving anything And maybe that is the point of it that there is no resolution to such a complex set of issues but that's not very satisfying to me as a readerOverall I enjoyed the writing in this story and its ability to provide a viewpoint into a tricky and difficult family setup and the effects of that on the daughters But the narrative itself felt a bit wandering to me without a clear goal in mind And when it did reach a crucial point it just sort of ended I didn't really gain any insight from it I kept waiting for throughout the book and then there was no


  3. says:

    This is my first book I've read by Tayari Jones I enjoyed it very much The majority of story takes place during the 1980s in Atlanta Atlanta ain't nothing but a country town Silver Sparrows is about two families James Witherspoon is a bigamist He was already married ten years when he first meets Gwendolyn Gwen The first half of the book is told by Dana Lynn YarboroGwen's daughter Dana tells us how her mother and James first met gift wrapping counter Dana's mother knew James was married His other daughter Chaurisse was never a secretJames 'wife' is named Laverne Gwen accepts that James found Laverne firstand respects his wife's rights After all she has legal documents I was laughing thinking boy that's all it takes legal documents huh to be ok for your husband to have another wife and daughter? ok lol As for herself Gwen words like concubine whore mistress and consort are 'unfair' nasty words that come up in conversation mostly if Gwen is tipsy angry or sad So Gwen and Dana know about James other family However Laverne and Chaurisse know nothing about them The second half of the book is told by Chaurisse We begin to understand why Gwen accepted her invisible secret hidden life However soon both daughter's world collide The truth is this story breaks our hearts but it's also 'enjoyable to read' Both daughters voices as narrator are eually important to see the 'big picture' of what's going on The dialogue is authentic the story becomes and complex It's heartrending powerful funny and this entire book has a rich uality easily felt between the author and her historical knowledge of her generation growing up in Atlanta I liked it I'm also looking forward fingers crossed I receive a Netgalley copy in reading Tayari Jones new book called An American Marriage I think it sounds great


  4. says:

    There was a good premise here 2 daughters 2 mothers 1 father Only 1 motherdaughter pairing knew of the other And then ultimately they would all come together somewhow It was the coming together that didn't wow me I wanted from that very important turn their life upside down moment There were a lot of uestions I had when I got to the last pageWhy didn't Raleigh have his own lady friend why did he hang his whole life on his not brother and his family? Why did Dana befriend Chaurrise did she genuinely want to be her friend or was her plan to eventually expose their father? Was Dana just trying to replace Ronalda? Dana's mother knew James was married beyondhaving the affair and a baby why did she want to be a second illegal wife? What did she hope to gain? WHat did James think would come of it? What did James and Dana's mother say to each other after it all happened? How did Dana and Chaurrise avoid each other after it all happened for so long; granted Atlanta's not a small town but it seemed they were in a small enclave with many overlapping acuaintances? James left Dana and her mother it seemed pretty easily did he love them was it really that easy and simple a decision for him? Good premise good story But I wanted from it


  5. says:

    A rather stunning richly detailed novel I loved it very much You can peep my full review here tomorrow


  6. says:

    Silver Sparrow was chosen as one of the top 10 books of 2011 by Library Journal Here is an NPR article about this wonderful gem Here is a Washington Post about Silver SparrowWhat does the “other woman” represent in the nightmares of women everywhere? The mere thought of an “other woman” existing is terrifying horrifying humiliating and for many beyond imagination What if the “other woman” had a child? What if she lived in the same town and neighborhood? What if the “other woman” was not a passing fancy but existed in the husband’s life for decades – visiting her for dinner giving her money to support herself What if the husband’s friends and family knew about her? Is the “other woman” to blame? Is the child? How does the child of an “other woman” grow up emotionally healthy when she knows she is living in a shadow? When she knows that she is a secret? What kind of man husband father would live this sort of double life? And which family would he choose if his secret was exposed Silver Sparrow explores the very complicated walls and paths drawn around the hidden life that a bigamist lives and that of his secret second wife and their child The main portion of the story takes place during the 1980s in Atlanta and is told from two points of view The book begins with Dana the bigamist’s secret daughter The unfolding of the story with Dana's point of view immediately put Dana as the sympathetic character And as Dana told the story I almost was able to believe that the father may have been doing somewhat right by her Ms Jones is such a skillful writer in that she allowed me to buy completely into their life The second half of the book focuses on Chaurisse who is also a daughter of the bigamist’s but by his first marriage – and thus his public relationship From the beginning of Chaurisse's point of view it becomes clear that what Chaurisse has is a true father and a much truer family experience; poor Dana has the cast offs The contrast between each girl’s life becomes starker as the story unfolds We learn that incredibly both Dana and her mother are invested in protecting the bigamist’s secret; they are invested in protecting their life in the shadows I say incredibly because at some point shouldn’t they become frustrated with being pushed to the side? At some point will they have a need to bring it to light? And how does the “first wife” not guess about the duplicity? Does she not wonder why her husband is gone every single Wednesday? Does she not notice that money is missing? Both wives have their own careers and truly are able to support themselves and their daughters They are not in a situation where they are dependent on their man – the bigamist – to support them financially So where does the emotional dependence come from? Why stay? The story does not explore these points directly asked but they are explored implicitly Dana and Chaurisse are the same age however both girls do not possess the same level of knowledge about each other or about their father Dana and her mother know all about Chaurisse and her mother; they live in their shadow Every choice and step that Dana and her mother take is tempered by whether Chaurisse and her mother will be there or choose to do something similar Dana is truly a “second” Chaurisse and her mother have no idea that Dana exists But Chaurisse “gets” her father on a daily basis she lives with him and has the intimacy of a father daughter relationship Dana does not have any of this Her father while a weekly visitor is a mystery and almost an intangible Through the telling of the story by Dana and Chaurisse readers are also taken back in history and treated to a story telling of the adults’ lives as children The characters in Silver Sparrow are richly developed not only Dana and Chaurisse but also the ancillary characters that assist in creating and maintaining this situation – the mothers the father and the father’s best friend Through the interplay of the various characters readers are pulled into this beautifully told story And let me tell you it is an entertaining immersion you will not regret it but it is painful as well There are some truly heartbreaking scenes where the characters hurt each other – hurt in a deep emotional way Hurt in a way that as a reader I did not know how they could survive such pain This is a wonderful story a beautiful book and I highly recommend it


  7. says:

    Good read not great Can't really understand all the fuss Keep hearing that it's well written Hell aren't books supposed to be? We set the bar pretty low when we say that I pay good money for books and for me well written is a minimum expectation I think pace subject matter character realism and prose are important when judging a book as worthy of ones' time And in that vein Silver Sparrow hits the mark It is book you will enjoy talking about with others because of the real life plot line I liked the way drama was kept to a minimum of course until the climax which seemed a bit rushed Almost like she didn't know how to end the book I would have liked the secret to have been revealed earlier in the novel and see how the protagonists worked it out This makes sense because the story is told from their perspective The holding of it to build a dramatic climax wasn't entirely necessary This is a minor disappointment and does not stop me from enthusiastically recommending this book


  8. says:

    Complicated Complicated Complicated This is a book that so many bookie friends have recommended to me I just recently found it in my local used bookstore with a round of other much recommended books and so I decided to dive right in Since so many have already read it I'm not too sure what I could say that hasn't already been said but of course give my opinion Let's start with the composition This is an extremely tempting and curious book From the first page as our narrator starts to tell her story the reader is immediately sucked in It's intriguing to find out what is happening? What is this story really all about The story is written from the point of view of the two daughters in this book The first half is told by Dana and the second half by Chaurisse I found the author did a great job at creating distinction between the two voices Even within either of those two narrations we hear voices from other characters within the book as the story is being told and the author again is uite skilled in delivering the various personalities The author does a great job of connecting the reader with the characters with the alternation of the narrators You really get the point of view from each side I do recommend this book I do want so very dearly to give it a perfect score but for reasons I can only discuss in the spoiler portion below it's a GR 4 star but my personal score system has halves so technically this is a 4 12 so there we are I recommend to the Chick lit readers because it's got drama to the African American fiction readers Lit readers and people who like a good relationship drama This is a story of lies deceit secrets and need More than that there's no other way I can think of to go into this but to talk about the book so I'll toss the old spoiler alert on right now for those who need it Below is what the book is about and my opinionSPOILERSWhen I started this book I didn't know what I was getting into I started to listen to Dana's story The beginning of Gwen and James love story It seemed normal enough until we learned that James was already married It still seemed a little romantic until it hit you the weight of what they were doing A second marriage? A second simultaneously marriage? When Dana began to tell her story she mentioned these other women in her community Possibly of some cult wearing white and in church several of them and the one husband I at first thought maybe this was what this book was about But no It was very reminiscent of stories those of us growing up in African American communities in America may have heard of There is always some gossip in the community or some family lore And this was very reminiscent of it I could almost hear the sisters gossiping about it in the hair salon Ummm girl did you hear about that Witherspoon?You mean the one owns that limo service Um girl that's the one Lowers voice looks both ways in preparation for the good gossipWhispers Girl he ain't no goodWhaaaaat?I heard he got two wivesShut upYes Chile And get this two little girls months apartNow I can't believe that because you know the look of him he don't look like doodely suat with them big ole' Coke bottle glasses and he's shortLaughter erupts One lady slaps her leg The other throws her head back You know you ain't rightIt's the truth And you know that brother of hisFake brother Cause you can look at them and see Raleigh ain't no blood brother of hisTrue True But Raleigh ain't too bad lookin either I must say thatYes you MUST say thatScene ends Curtain comes down on the Beauty shop set I really connected with this book and the characters Maybe I've come across people who were similar Maybe I know some of those ualities Maybe I recognize them Maybe some of the situations relationships uotes are reminiscent of things that I've experienced witnessed heard about There was a real connection I felt so bad for Dana ChaurisseLaverne because James and Gwen and even Raleigh had put those two innocent girls into this dysfunctional situation Gwen chose to play house with a man she knew was already married No matter what she thought it was that was play house She seems to have gone into this arrangement out of a need for a husband and she knew it was not right and she even had the opportunity to redeem herself when Raleigh proposed but she allowed a child to make the decision for her Which I'll never comprehend Gwen was very childlike to me Sneaking around like a stalker watching Chaurisse and Laverne And it ticked me off that she taught this to Dana Poor Dana's very existence was pitted against Chaurisse and created this competition This need to be validated James was just as much at fault as Gwen I understand he married Laverne when they were very young But he took obligation too far When he fell for Gwen he could have just had an affair as some do Not saying it's right but he became a bigamist Those are lies unforgivable To live to lives and lies to that degree is just selfishness personified Maybe it was out of obligation Maybe he felt pushed by Gwen Maybe it validated him because he sounded kind of ugly Made him feel good as a man to have two women He thought he was special During Dana's section of the book you thought that James did care for them By the time you got to Chaurisse's section and the end of the book it seemed as if this had turned into some obligation and he didn't even care much about Dana and Gwen All the talk of love seemed like words That all his time with Gwen and Dana over the years had been obligation or routine or to pacify them actually If I do this give them a little time a little money they won't tell my secret that I made a long time ago and now can't get out of so I have to keep it going Raleigh poor Raleigh I feel so sorry for him I've seen so many Raleigh's men and women aging walking around unloved living vicariously through brother'ssister's sharing nieces or nephews in the place of husbandswives or children It's very sad He was hurt so bad by his mother He only wanted really to share James life Living in a sense vicariously through him Notice when he spoke it was always we or your daddy and I or James and I type of thing The one time he wanted he wanted Gwen but she wouldn't have him It was like he lost out to James again It would be interesting maybe to hear a story about Raleigh and how James got everything but he got to share it? That's why I'd say all together this is a story about need What each character needed Yearned for And what they got Great character study Those are just my thoughtsThe only reason why I didn't give it a perfect star was because it got just the slightest slightest bit tedious at the end


  9. says:

    I hated that I waited so long to read this bookTayari Jones walked my neighborhood along my streets past stores I shopped in and restaurants I ate at in Atlanta Her characters went to schools my friends went to and many of their experiences were mine too Those nostalgic 80's when life seemed to be bathed in neon and everyone wore jellies but not even bright colors could cover up some of the scandals that rocked the local hair salons with gossip in real life and also in this almost true to life story written by Tayari JonesDana and Chaurisse don't appear to have very much in common but they do share something very significant they have the same father even though only one of them knows it Their mutual dad James is a bigamist who lives his double life with the help of his best friend Raleigh Written from the perspectives of both daughters Silver Sparrow is the story of two separate families learning to live with a secret that only some of them are aware of It is a suspenseful and heartbreaking journey into what it means to be a family and how the people in your life impact your self worthI have to admit that it didn't end the way I expected I was than a little disheartened at that But I realized that was part of the beauty of this book it was personal to me And after all isn't that the mark of a great author?


  10. says:

    An intriguing story about an African American man James who is a bigamist James is married to two women at the same timeand has a daughter by each of them The weird thing is James is actually a good man and it's easy to sympathize with his predicamentI liked the structure of the book; the first half was narrated by Dana daughter of the second wife and the second half was narrated by Bunny daughter of the first wife As Chaurisse didn't knows that her father was already married it was pretty interesting to see what she made of things she saw and heard that we knew the cause of One alternately feels sorry for both Chaurisse and DanaAll the characters in the story are uite fascinating; they are all flawed human beings but that's what makes them human in my opinionI breezed through the story it was a very entertaining read