Dana spends time with her father, James Witherspoon, once a week. Every Wednesday, her mother (and James’ second wife), Gwen, cooks a nice meal and they all sit down for family time. The remaining nights of the week, James has dinner with his other daughter Chaurisse, and his first wife, Laverne.
Yes, you read that right. James has two wives. Gwen and Dana are openly aware of Chaurisse and Laverne, his first family, the family that gets him 90% of the time. Laverne and Chaurisse, however, live their lives oblivious of James’ second family, choosing to believe that James works late nights every Wednesday.
Gwen and Dana are almost content with being a secret, until Dana notices the privileges bestowed upon Chaurisse for being the only publicly known daughter.
Tayari Jones tells the story of these two families through both Dana and Charisse, making it nearly impossible to choose sides. Should you root for Dana and Gwen, lovechild and mistress respectively, who have the power to ruin a marriage that has lasted nearly 20 years? Sounds ridiculous to want to root for them, but reading of Dana always being second best through no fault of her own, can at times be heart breaking. And then there is Chaurisse, the apple of her father’s eye, protected from the truth but also lonely, her only friends being her mother and the clients in her mother’s salon.
I am a sucker for writers who can expertly tell an authentic, believable story, especially when doing so through young characters. Dana’s childhood and Chaurisse’s teen years were engrossing. Jones’ writing is like an easy, smooth conversation.
I wanted to strangle, hug (particularly Raleigh, James’ best friend/sidekick…he could get it), yell and roll my eyes at some of the characters, which is usually a good indicator that I am deep in to a good story. My book club greatly enjoyed the story and it made for a lengthy discussion, as would most conversations about the whens, whys, hows and effects of cheating.
I’d recommend this story for those interested in family dynamics, bigamy, infidelity, and good storytelling.
Three things happened yesterday
- She was awarded a 2012 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts
- Her most recent offering, Silver Sparrow, was named one of the Top Ten Best Books of 2011 by The Library Journal
- Silver Sparrow was voted my book club’s March 2012 selection
That last bullet point may not be that big of a deal, but it is to me! lol
Silver Sparrow, released today, tells the story of two daughters of a secret bigamist in Atlanta. I have been excited for a long time about this book, not just because of the scandalous subject matter (the daughters do not share the same mother, and only one knows about the other), but also because the author, Tayari Jones, wowed me seven years ago with her first release, Leaving Atlanta, a fictional account of the Atlanta child murders of the early 80s. Add to that, she’s very approachable online, blogging great tips on writing, while sharing her own ups and downs, ins and outs in publishing. She is also very interactive with readers through Twitter.
I cannot wait to add this story to my collection. She is currently on an expansive book tour and I’m excited to see that she’ll be in my neck of the woods in San Francisco in a few weeks.