BY TAYARI JONES
Silver Sparrow is Tayari Jones’s next book after the highly acclaimed American Marriage (reviewed in Den’s library). From the monumental opening sentence, Jones’s powerful storytelling once again brings us a rich and luminous narrative told through the opposing eyes of two sisters living in 1980’s Atlanta.
Dana and Chaurisse have the same father, but different mothers – Gwen and Laverne respectively. Both women are married to James Witherspoon, an unlikely bigamist who runs a limousine business with his ‘brother’ Raleigh, himself entwined in the deception. James’s marriage to Laverne is openly more legitimate than the other as this is the relationship he puts first to the public eye. For most of their childhood lives, Gwen makes bigamy work for James as she and Dana , his secret child (Silver Sparrow) live in the shadow of Laverne and Chaurisse who know nothing of their existence.
Jones writes from the heart of both Dana and Chaurisse with equal measure. Your empathy with each sister and mother constantly changes as the back story of the families is revealed. For many years, Dana accepts her upbringing as the only life she knows and the moment she unwittingly explains the family picture she has drawn to her teacher is heart-breaking. However, as the sisters reach adolescence so Dana begins to question her anonymity. There are the inevitable chance and manipulated meetings which result in a heart-rending and desperate climax.
The Den were deeply moved by this story of misplaced love and loyalty – it will take your breath away.