Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

14th July 2011

*I was lucky enough to get a signed copy of this book from Ms. Jones at BEA11. You can purchase a copy of this book pubbed by Algonquin through Indiebound.

Sometimes it is really, really difficult to write a review. Not because you didn’t like a particular book, but because you did. Silver Sparrow is that book for me, and I have saved about six different drafts of this review. So just know, I loved this book.


From the first line, “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist,” Jones tells a story unlike any other I have read, about Witherspoon’s two daughters – Dana, the “outside” daughter and Chaurisse, the “inside” daughter.

James spends one night a week with Dana and her mom Gwen and the rest of the week with Chaurisse and her mom, Laverne. However, Dana and her mom live with the burden of knowing about James’s other family, while Laverne and Chaurisse have no idea of James’s betrayal. But James’s secret (and quite beautiful) wife and daughter don’t remain a secret for long, and inevitably the two girls meet. Dana Lynn is curious about her counterpart – the girl allowed to be called James Witherspoon’s daughter.  Chaurisse, though, is oblivious to Dana’s relation to her. All she knows is she isn’t “silver” or pretty like Dana, and sometimes Dana has an anger that puzzles Chaurisse.

What Chaurisse doesn’t understand is the true selfishness James shows toward Dana. Once, she comes home with a drawing from elementary school. In it, she draws her daddy and his other family in the foreground and Dana and her mother in the background. Her daddy tells her she can’t draw pictures like that because it’s nobody’s business:

“Your other wife and your other girl is a secret?” I asked him.

He put me down from his lap, so we could look each other in the face. “No. You’ve got it the wrong way around. Dana, you are the one that’s a secret.”

I’m not a momma, but I had some choice words for this man when I read this scene. And maybe that’s why it has been so difficult for me to write this review. Because try as I might, I cannot forget what James Witherspoon did to the women he loves. Yes, Silver Sparrow is a story about love, friendship, sisterhood, loss and growing up, but it is also more than anything, a story of one man’s decision and the women he loves having to painfully come to terms with that choice.


Read this: immediately/as soon as possible/when you get a chance/eh-if you’re bored

jenn aka the picky girl

  • And to think, we just stumbled across her as we were walking by! I have this one on the list for later in the year. I’ll be looking forward to it!

    • pickygirl

      I know! I’m so glad we did. I think you’ll really enjoy this book.

  • Sounds like a great book – love the title. Just the kind of book for me. Enjoyed the review too, as always!

    • pickygirl

      Thanks so much! I love the title – and I also really love the cover. Beautiful.

  • Meagan

    I want to read this…asap. did you own this one?? sounds so good.

    • pickygirl

      I DO own it, and you are welcome to borrow it. It’s so great.

  • WOW — intense! I’m not sure I could read this — I definitely get angry at awful fathers. Still, your liking of this book says a lot!

    • pickygirl

      That’s why I was so disappointed with my review – because it’s not really all about him and he’s not awful awful. He IS in that by being unable to make a decision he hurts a lot of people, but he also loves them, even if it’s not in the way we think he should. Anyway, all that to say – it’s much more about the girls, and for that, it’s worth it.

  • You’re excerpt from the book gave me chills! Wow, I will definitely have to give this book a read.

    • pickygirl

      Thanks, Megan! It did me, too. The book was one of the best I’ve read in a while to be honest.

  • Meagan

    I want everyone I know to read Silver Sparrow. I absolutely loved this book. The characters were amazing. Couldn’t put it down…after page 38. heh

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it!!