Silver Sparrow: Book summary and reviews of Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Silver Sparrow

A Novel

by Tayari Jones

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones X
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
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  • Published in USA  May 2011
    352 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

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 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 when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered. As Jones explores the backstories of her rich yet flawed characters - the father, the two mothers, the grandmother, and the uncle - she also reveals the joy, as well as the destruction, they brought to one another's lives.

At the heart of it all are the two lives at stake, and like the best writers - think Toni Morrison with The Bluest Eye - Jones portrays the fragility of these young girls with raw authenticity as they seek love, demand attention, and try to imagine themselves as women, just not as their mothers.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Jones beautifully evokes Atlanta in the 1980s while creating gritty, imperfect characters whose pain lingers in the reader's heart." - Kirkus Reviews

"Highly recommended for all, but especially for readers of women's fiction and African American women writers." - Library Journal

"Set on its forced trajectory, the novel piles revelation on revelation, growing increasingly histrionic and less believable." - Publishers Weekly

"Remarkably, as in Brady Udall's The Lonely Polygamist, the unconventional, morally troubling relationships at the core of Jones' Silver Sparrow illustrate nothing if not the universality of the human quest for acknowledgment, legitimacy, love and loyalty. A complex family drama, a richly crafted coming-of-age story and a meditation on the nature of love and forgiveness, Jones' novel is a gripping, highly readable, literary story with fleshy, likable, heartbreaking characters at its center." - Libby Cowles, Maria's Bookshop, Durango, CO

"Tayari Jones' novel is a lovely and moving read. Silver Sparrow maps the strange terrain of love and family, as well as the difficulties of coming of age." - Jenn Northington, WORD, Brooklyn, NY

"An ordinary story that is irresistibly compelling. I'm looking forward to the conversations that are going to happen around this Silver Sparrow, and I'm grateful for the moments of reflection and revelation, however sad, that it allowed me." - Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY

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Author Information

Tayari Jones Author Biography

Photo: Nina Subin

New York Times best-selling author, Tayari Jones, is the author of the novels Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow, and An American Marriage. Her writing has appeared in Tin House, The Believer, The New York Times, and Callaloo. A member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, she has also been a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, United States Artist Fellowship, NEA Fellowship and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship. Silver Sparrow was added to the NEA Big Read Library of classics in 2016. Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. She is a Professor of Creative Writing at Emory University.

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