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Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Silver Sparrow (edition 2012)

by Tayari Jones

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4073426,158 (3.81)16
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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I first heard of Tayari Jones years ago when I read The Secret Miracle. The Secret Miracle was one of those “round-table” author books where writers are asked a question and each author shares their perspective. Tayari Jones was one of the participants. I decided to keep score and figured I would read the works of the top-scoring writers. Tayari Jones was a top scorer.

Years have passed and I've read only one of those five authors I told myself I'd read (Aleksandar Hemon, the only author from that list I've read, I'd been familiar with prior to The Secret Miracle). It's time to rectify that.

Silver Sparrow stands behind a very intriguing premise. James Witherspoon, a bigamist, has two families. One family knows about the other. The other family does not. It's a wonderful setup and the story that unfolds is exciting and dramatic. I loved the narrative choice of using Witherspoon's daughters as well as the structure of giving each of the daughters half the novel to tell their story. The one negative about this was that Jones delved too far into things these girls wouldn't know about family history and such. I get that they've probably been told things by their mothers and would know some, but the detail into which they go, especially Chaurisse and the stories she tells about her mother's younger years, are unbelievable; in a story such as this, believably is extremely important. Going with a limited-third-person perspective might have aided in making this knowledge more believable, but would've distanced the reader from the characters too much. Going with any other perspective than that of the girls would've ruined the story. I think perhaps the best choice would've been to tell less of the back story, leave it to what the girls might have been told.

Jones' novel is full of characters that are realistic and interesting. The particulars and repercussions of bigamy are details most of us probably give little thought to. Silver Sparrow explores these uncharted lands with great insight and heart. It's a story of not only the Other Woman, but the Other Daughter as well. ( )
  chrisblocker | Feb 20, 2015 |
Well written book that raises excellent questions about being a daughter, a sister, a father. Great discussion book. ( )
  vnesting | Oct 26, 2014 |
This story shares the frustrations sister born to a bigamist father. One is burdened with keeping her father's secret, while the other has no idea her father's other family even exists. Similar in age, they are both navigating their teenage years and learning what family truly is. The story is totally relatable to all "silver sparrows" in this world. ( )
  NikoleA | Oct 10, 2014 |
Enjoyed this story of bigamist father to 2 different black families, each having a daughter born just months' apart. First half is from point of view of daughter that was "illegitimate". Second half was POV of other daughter. Each told the story of their family life, with father in the forefront. At end of second half, the 2 families collide and changes things forever. ( )
  bogopea | Jul 30, 2014 |
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 |
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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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Tayari Jones is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

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