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Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
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Silver Sparrow (edition 2012)

by Tayari Jones

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3793228,461 (3.83)16
Member:arielfl
Title:Silver Sparrow
Authors:Tayari Jones
Info:Algonquin Books (2012), Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:Fiction African American

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Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

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I just finished reading Silver Sparrow. It is a novel written by Tayari Jones. This book is about two families who would have completely independent lives if it wasn't for one small detail. They have the same husband. The man married both women because he got them both pregnant. The second wife knew about the other wife and about their daughter. The first wife had no clue about the second wife or her daughter.

I can honestly say that I loved this book. I didn't want it to end. I love how she placed it in both of the daughter's perspectives. I feel it added a more clarifying point to the whole situation. I loved how much I got sucked into the book. I felt for both of the girls. I have to be honest. I had more sympathy for Dana than I did Chaurisse. At the end, I started realizing how spoiled Chaurisse truly was.

I feel there were certain parts that could have been told in more detail. They were written out perfectly without the details though. I also would have liked to seen a few chapters from the mothers' perspectives. I think that would have been pretty awesome. I understand why it was written the way it was though.

I fully recommend this book to anybody. It's a very powerful story. I loved it, and I'm sure others will love it just as much as I did. If I had the money to do so, I'd buy a copy for all my friends and family to read. I can't tell you enough how beautiful and powerful this story really is. Get a copy and find out for yourself. You won't regret it. ( )
  WillowStarSerenity | Feb 28, 2014 |
Enjoyed this read. I will seek others by this author. ( )
  medixon | Feb 11, 2014 |
2 fathers/2 families
  hammockqueen | Dec 21, 2013 |
NOTE: While I don't think this review has any major spoilers, it does have more revelations than I normally include.

This story begins through the eyes of Dana Lynn, a young girl of color being raised in relatively poor circumstances. She and her mother don't live in poverty, but they are surviving on a single mother's nursing salary. As the first line in the book states quite bluntly, Dana's father is a bigamist, already married to another woman and yet married to her mother as well.
The book reveals Dana's life with her mother Gwen, and what she knows of the life of her father's other family with his wife Laverne and other daughter Chaurisse. It was fascinating to see the story through Dana’s eyes, and to build your impression of Chaurisse and her mother and everything else through Dana, and then to suddenly have that shift a little over halfway through the story, and see things from Chaurisse’s perspective. I loved that about this story.

Dana's mother Gwen married young, a boy she knew from middle school. She married him after graduation, and they divorced a couple of years later. Working a store counter, she met James Witherspoon one day while he was looking for a gift for his wife. Within a year after her divorce, she was living in a rooming house and pregnant with a married man's child.

So Gwen has her baby and puts herself through school to become a nurse. Shortly after Dana's birth, James and Gwen marry in a neighboring state. Dana is raised knowing from a young age about her father's other family, and getting the sense that she must spend her life playing second fiddle to sister Chaurisse.

However sister Chaurisse and the family know nothing of Dana and her mother. It isn't until grandmother Bunny is on her deathbed that her grandmother is finally told of Dana, and Dana is brought to meet her.

Bunny was my favorite character, as brief as she was in the story. She wished her boys would have told her sooner of Dana's existence, and that she'd had time to get to know her.

I read this one for my book club, and the consensus was that the characters weren't very likable. In fact, one woman in the group really disliked this book! It's one of those books that can just leave a bad taste in your mouth, because you are so frustrated with the characters and the way they handle the events in their lives.

And father James, while you give him credit for trying to be a part of his "illegitimate" daughter's life, you see the unfairness of it all. Dana is always given second best. She gets her father one day a week while here sister gets him every day. Throughout her life she has to sacrifice her wants for that of her sister (when her sister wants a summer job at the same place as Dana or wants to attend the same program, it is Dana that must forfeit her desire). And while her father and his wife Laverne make a good living and are able to provide their daughter Chaurisse with a comfortable life that include debutante balls, Dana lives in the projects, being raised on her mother's salary and whatever scraps her father tosses their way.

James' brother Raleigh is sort of likable, but his general inaction and silence in the face of what his brother is doing to Dana and her mother is infuriating at times. He is his brother's accomplice in his duplicity, and James could not have pulled off the dual lives (one public and one secret) without Raleigh, who is even named as Dana's father on her birth certificate.

Aside from the story content or writing style, I was surprised at the poor formatting of the ebook. There were a lot of typos and I could swear there were missing passages. There were strange stilted endings to chapters. Others in my book club agreed that some of the chapters ended rather abruptly.

My final word: This book was "okay". I enjoyed the unique dual perspective, I was intrigued by the concept. But when it came down to it, I just didn't like the characters very much. Bunny was the only one I really cared for, and the daughter Chaurisse and uncle Raleigh I liked a bit. The writing style was okay, but not thoroughly engaging. It gets an "eh" from me. Kind of intriguing, but the characters are ultimately unlikable. ( )
  nfmgirl2 | Nov 4, 2013 |
This book had such hype and so many book club selections that I don't know that it could have lived up to it all. I enjoyed the book, certainly, a solid read, but it wasn't overwhelmingly fantastic like I was led to believe. ( )
  Brainannex | Oct 25, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
A Daughter is a Colony

a territory, a progeny,
a spitting image
like Athena sprung

from her father's head;
chip off the old block,
issue and spawn;

a namesake, a wishbone---
loyalist and traitor----
a native, an other,

a subject, a study,
a history, a half blood,
a continent dark and strange.

-----Natasha Trethewey
Dedication
For my parents, Barbara and Mack Jones, who, to the best of my knowledge, are married only to each other
First words
My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist.
Quotations
Anyone who has ever seen James when the stammer rode him could tell how much it hurt him. His face and neck seemed to swell as though the words were trapped in there, painful and deadly like sickle cells. And finally with a jerk, spasm, or kick, the sentence would break free, unfettered and whole.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A 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 lives. At 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.… (more)

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