Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones is about the two families of a bigamist, James Witherspoon. The beginning is told by Dana Lynn who is in the unusual position of knowing she is the secret child of a man who has another family. A family that includes another daughter her age.
From childhood, Dana Lynn yearns for confirmation that her father loves her as much as he loves his “real” daughter, Chaurisse. She feels a little victory each time she is shown a bit of affection or given a gift, but ultimately knows she is a secret and that everything she has or does is secondary. She begrudgingly accepts the limitations of her relationship with her father and the precautions he takes to prevent his two daughters from meeting by chance.
The narrative switches to Chaurisse rather suddenly and it is through her that the reader realizes Dana has secretly befriended her sister. Though it is interesting to see how the revelation of her father’s secret family affects her and her mother, it is disappointing to miss Dana’s perspective. Dana is who the reader initially connects with and comes to know best, yet her situation remains unresolved. There is a brief round-up of how her life is as an adult, but it mostly feels like a way to quickly tidy up the ending.
Jones does a masterful job of creating rich, full and distinct personalities of both Dana and Chaurisse. It is especially interesting to note how each girl sees herself in comparison to how she appears through her sister’s eyes. Silver Sparrow is an interesting and well-written novel that is worth making the time to read.
Kathie is a writer, wife, mother and volunteer living in the beautiful Appalachian mountains. Her passion for the written word is fulfilled by creating her own fictional work, freelancing, acting as an adviser to another author, and reading with her six year old daughter.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Algonquin Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.