With the opening line, "My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist," Tayari Jones skillfully pulls the reader into the world of two sisters: Dana and Chaurisse. Told in first person by each of the sisters, Silver Sparrow is absolutely remarkable. I realize that it doesn't come out until May, but, trust me, you're going to want to pre-order it.
As James' outside child, Dana lives in a world where she's limited by a sister with whom she can't communicate. The product of James' "marriage" to her mother, Gwen, Dana can't work at Six Flags, can't attend a summer program, can't do this and can't do this. Why? Simply because there's a chance that in a big town that can be small like Atlanta, there's a chance that she could meet her sister. While Dana is well aware of Chaurisse's existence, Chaurisse is ignorant of Dana's.
Chaurisse is the product of James' marriage to Laverne. She is actually the daughter for whom I feel the most pity. She is not the pretty daughter and nothing about her stands out. Her parents married at extremely young ages and seem to be together more out of familiarity than anything else. While Dana's mother plays an active part in her life, I almost get the impression that Chaurisse is overlooked by both parents. Not only is she overlooked by her parents, she's overlooked by most people outside of their home as well.
Used to being overlooked, Chaurisse has a name for girls that seem to sparkle and shine; silver. Silver girls are naturally beautiful, but don't mind using makeup to enhance their beauty. Not only are they beautiful on the outside, they're beautiful on the inside. And because birds of feather flock together, they associate with other silver girls, not regular nobodies like her. But one day in the drugstore, Chaurisse meets a silver girl who does want to be her friend and their friendship will be life changing.
It was simply gut-wrenching at times to watch Dana be denied simple pleasures. Can you imagine living a life less than what you deserve because your father is a selfish man? As I kept reading, I repeatedly asked of James, "what kind of coward are you that you would ask a child to carry this burden?" Jones leads the reader through this world, allowing them to get so invested in the character that when she acts out, it feels justified. And when she's in pain, it's only natural for the reader to empathize.
What did you like about this book?
Tayari Jones weaves words together like a beautiful tapestry. I honestly had to put the book down the closer I got to the end because I wasn't ready to be done. Often in stories like this, readers feel the need to choose a side, someone has to be right and someone has to be wrong. It's virtually impossible to do that here.
What didn't you like about this book?
I really wanted James to be held more accountable for his actions. I wanted him to be punished and, with the exception of Dana, it seemed that all of the women were willing to forgive him.
What could the author do to improve this book?
Through Dana and Chaurisse, the reader learns the mother's opinions on what's going on and get glimpses into their thoughts. James felt like a character on the fringe, even though his actions were responsible for the drama happening. I would have loved to hear the story from his voice, in addition to the girls.
Published: May 2011
Theme: Love Child by Diana Ross & the Supremes