My Little Pocketbooks: Review: Silver Sparrow   

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Review: Silver Sparrow

Silver Sparrow
Author: Tayari Jones
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Release Date: May 24, 2011
Hardcover: 352 pages

Source: Purchased at EsoWon Bookstore (at book signing 4/19/12)
Buy the Book:  Amazon
Book Description
 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 the 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. This is the third stunning novel from an author deemed “one of the most important writers of her generation” (the Atlanta Journal Constitution).
Review
I have had this book for just short of one year collecting dust on my bookshelf.  I had heard great reviews about the book and the cover also was a big hit with me.  So when I heard the author, Tayari Jones was doing a book signing at my favorite store I had to be there.  At the beginning of the book signing she read the first chapter and I was hooked.  I have no idea what happened after I left.  I remember reading the next chapter then I put it down.  Not because it was not good just because I was reading another book or two.  Anyways, Silver Sparrow was selected as this years 2nd African American Read-In with Vasilly @ 1330v.  Thank you sweetie for making me pull this book back out.
Now that all has been said, let's talk about the book.  Silver Sparrow is set in Atlanta around the 1980's and centers on two families with unbeknownst to one of the wives, they are sharing the same husband.  Now here is where it gets interesting.  The book is told by Dana and Chaurisse.  The daughters of Jame's.  Without giving anything away Dana grows up knowing about the other wife and daughter.  She knows she is a secret even though her mama is married to him.  Could you image that?  Growing up knowing you are a secret and that your daddy is a "secret" daddy.  WOW!  
The author painted the crazy situation these teen girls find themselves in perfectly.  I loved all the references of the 1980's (without showing my age).  It was a little flash of my teen years too!  I have heard from others who grew up in Atlanta that the author got every detail of the city perfectly as well. 
I also loved how the author gives you a look into the lives of both families.  I just wanted to see more of Dana's mom towards the end of the book.  She just kinda disappeared into thin air.  What happened to Gwen?  

Below are the 2nd African American Read-In Discussion Questions and my answers
1.  There is so much talk these days about fatherhood—contrasting the deadbeat dad with the Bill Cosby-type father. How do you evaluate James Witherspoon, who is both?

I kinda am 50/50 on this one.  I think James got himself into a situation and did the best he knew how to do.  I'm not saying it was the right thing to do but he made sure he was present in both households.  That is a lot more than what some men are doing now with just one.  I would not give him father of the year but I wouldn't add him to the list of deadbeat dads either.  He thought he knew what he was doing and he thought it was right.
2.  Is Laverne’s life better or worse for having married James? What about Gwen? Does James love Laverne or Gwen? Does he love either one of them?

MEENNNN!!  Sorry I just had to say that one time.  LOL!  Back in the day, and in the South a pregnant teenager who was unmarried had zero options.  Marriage to James was the only thing she could do.  I don't think her mom was pro-back alley abortion so marriage was THE ONLY OPTION.  The marriage pretty much saved her.  As for Gwen she was older and marrying James was something she forced him into.  She could have left him at anytime and found a new man.  Since she was holding down the bills and all she really didn't need to marry James at all.  James married Laverne at such a young age that they practically grew up together.  And in my opinion that will produce a love and comfort that is stronger than adult love at first sight.  They grew to love each other.  James probably lust after Gwen only.  Not love. 
3.  Why do you think Raleigh is so loyal to James?
Raleigh was abandoned by his mother and he has no idea who his father is.  Black people were weary of him because he looked white, while White people were a little taken back because he didn't look white enough.  He belonged to no one and no where.  James was his family.  His only family.
4.  Should Gwen have married Raleigh when she had the chance?

I think so.  I think they would could have made it work and then she wouldn't have to depend on James to man up.
5.  Where you surprised to read about Gwen confronting Laverne?

OH! YES!  I was shocked I had no idea how that was going to turn out.
6.  Did you have a favorite character? Did you have a least favorite? Which characters would you like to know more about?

I liked Dana and Chaurisse because I seem to relate to them more.  My least favorite were the boyfriends of the girls.  They were users.  I would love to have more info on Gwen.  What happened o Gwen?
7.  Were you surprised at the ending? Was it ever possible for this story to have a happy ending?

I think the author gave the perfect ending.  What other outcome could have come from it?  I think it was perfect.
8.  Overall, what did you think of the book?

Reviews From Other Bloggers
Recommendations
I recommend this book to young adults and older.
Challenges
This book is number 6 in my Off My Shelf Reading Challenge
This book is number 10 in my Women Reading Challenge
This book is number 5 in my TBR Pile Reading Challenge
This book is number 1 in my Dusty Bookshelf Reading Challenge


Images from the book signing 4/19/2012 at Esowon Bookstore in Los Angeles, CA.

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