06 December 2011

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones

Flap Copy: "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 - a relationship destined to explode. As Jones explores the backstories of her rich yet flawed characters, she reveals the joy, and the destruction, they brought to one another's lives. And at the heart of it all are the two girls whose lives are at stake - portrayed with raw authenticity as they seek love, demand attention, and try to imagine themselves as women."

This book was not exactly what I was expecting when I first picked it up. The writing is excellent, though the story is heartbreaking. Jones divided the novel into two halfs: the first is Dana's story, in her own words, of life as a secret daughter in a secret family; the second is Chaurisse's much more mundane tale of life in what she sees as a normal family. Dana's experiences are awful, as are (in my opinion) the adults in her life who enable and create her negative environment. Though Chaurisse is not directly to blame for the way that Dana is treated, her very existence as the public daughter nearly destroys her hidden sister's dreams.

Jones tells an engaging story, one that made me want to keep reading. I was truly disappointed by the Epilogue however, which left me with a bad taste in my mouth and less respect for the characters than I had previously held. I give 'Silver Sparrow' 3.5 stars - I'd recommend it, but be prepared for a little disappointment in your fellow man.

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