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Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Silver Sparrow (edition 2012)

by Tayari Jones

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5314918,991 (3.78)23
Title:Silver Sparrow
Authors:Tayari Jones
Info:Algonquin Books (2012), Paperback, 368 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:Fiction African American

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Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones



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There's a lot to like about this book. Primarily, the author is excellent at portraying character development. A man who shares time and financial resources with two families is portrayed from the perspective of the bigamist, the two wives, one of whom, while there is a piece of paper signed by a judge, is not legally married. Their daughter Dana is almost the same age as the daughter who knows nothing of her father's other family.

Dana's tale is heartbreaking. Knowing that more time and financial resources are given to his legal family, she lives her life trying not to feel second best. Her mother is manipulative and in is the least able to like in the host of characters.

When, as teens, the two daughters meet and develop a short-lived friendship, it is only a matter of time until all discover the secrets.

I will search for more written by this author. She took a complex subject, drew a sensitive portrait of each impacted in the family while not painting it as a soap opera.

Four Stars ( )
  Whisper1 | May 28, 2017 |
Terrific audio book; wonderful reader. ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
I really, really loved this book. There has been a lot of fuss made about Tayari Jones's writing, and it is very fine, but what made the book for me was her feel for her characters, and her real sympathy for all of them. It would have been so easy to make one or more of these characters into the villain of the piece, but I felt that Jones understood and empathized with all of them. This isn't an action-packed thriller--not a whole lot happens--but I couldn't put it down because I really wanted to see what would happen to Dana and Chaurisse and their families. The ending was a bit abrupt, but other than that, I can't think of any quibbles. One of the best books I've read this year. ( )
  gayla.bassham | Nov 7, 2016 |
This book was very interesting and able to present real people dealing with life's difficulties. The writing was good, although I liked the writing from Dana's perspective better than that from Chaurisse. The book was non-judgmental and very caring. ( )
  suesbooks | Sep 19, 2016 |
Set mostly in the eighties, this is the story of the daughters of James Witherspoon, bigamist. One daughter, the "secret" daughter, knows that her father is a bigamist and knows who his first wife and child are. The other daughter does not. The book is divided into two sections, one told from each daughter's point of view, and telling the story of this extended family and how the secret comes out.

I wanted to like this better than I did. I felt like the story was there and the writing was pretty good, but the book just didn't sing for me. There was no spark. I also had a lot of trouble holding the setting--1980s Atlanta--in mind. I constantly had to remind myself that it wasn't set in the fifties, because there seemed to be almost no cultural or pop cultural context (except for the occasional reference to Bill Cosby, and boy howdy does that play differently now than it would have when the book was published in 2011). Not a bad read, but disappointing in the end. ( )
  lycomayflower | Sep 10, 2016 |
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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
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.
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.
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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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