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Silver Sparrow

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  8,733 Ratings  ·  1,393 Reviews
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 sec

Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 24th 2011 by Algonquin Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Wilhelmina Jenkins
May 17, 2011 Wilhelmina Jenkins rated it it was amazing
I had not intended to read this book so quickly or to stay up until 3 AM reading it, but I was so caught up in this beautifully written, touching story that I couldn't stop. It's the kind of book that makes you want to discuss it with others right away. I have admired Tayari Jones' writing since her first novel Leaving Atlanta: A Novel, and in my opinion, her writing has only improved over time. She is able to convey so much by the voices she creates for two girls with a common father - given an ...more
Silver Sparrow was chosen as one of the top 10 books of 2011 by Library Journal.

Here is an NPR article about this wonderful gem.

Here is a Washington Post about Silver Sparrow.

What does the “other woman” represent in the nightmares of women everywhere? The mere thought of an “other woman” existing is terrifying, horrifying, humiliating and for many, beyond imagination. What if the “other woman” had a child? What if she lived in the same town and neighborhood? What if the “other woman” was
Jan 16, 2014 Debbie rated it really liked it
Complicated. Complicated. Complicated!
This is a book that so many "bookie" friends have recommended to me. I just recently found it in my local used bookstore with a round of other much recommended books and so I decided to dive right in. Since so many have already read it, I'm not too sure what I could say that hasn't already been said but of course, give my opinion.

Let's start with the composition. This is an extremely tempting and curious book. From the first page as our narrator starts to
Jul 13, 2011 Andre rated it liked it
Good read, not great. Can't really understand all the fuss. Keep hearing that "it's well written." Hell aren't books supposed to be? We set the bar pretty low when we say that. I pay good money for books, and for me well written is a minimum expectation. I think pace, subject matter, character, realism and prose are important when judging a book as worthy of ones' time. And in that vein, Silver Sparrow hits the mark. It is book you will enjoy talking about with others, because of the real life p ...more
Sep 07, 2015 Franc rated it liked it
There was a good premise here - 2 daughters, 2 mothers, 1 father. Only 1 mother/daughter pairing knew of the other. And then ultimately, they would all come together somewhow. It was the coming together that didn't wow! me - I wanted more from that very important turn-their-life-upside-down moment. There were a lot of questions I had when I got to the last page.
Why didn't Raleigh have his own lady-friend, why did he hang his whole life on his not-brother and his family? Why did Dana befriend Cha
Jan 30, 2012 Roxanne rated it really liked it
I have never read a story that even comes close to what Tayari Jones has created. Jones created a distinctive story, that engages the reader from beginning to end.

While this felt very Young Adult to me, I was completely engrossed by page 10. And I am definately not a young adult.

For some reason I was disappointed when the narrative voice changed from Dana to Chaurisse. The situation that both girls were put in was a result of their father's decision-making and Dana's mothers poor judgment.

I co
Aug 29, 2011 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
This book is devastating. I never should have started it because there is only one way for a story like this to go.

And, it did.
Now I just want it out of me. Damn.

BTW: Tayari Jones, you can WRITE. Also, that epilogue is EPIC. So real and so heartbreaking. I am a hot mess. thankyouverymuch.
Jun 01, 2011 Babydoll rated it liked it
I must confess, that even after the conclusion of this book, the story continues to resound in my spirit. Silver Sparrow is a disheartening tale of two sisters, and a disturbing family secret that divides them for the better part of their lives. The central part of the novel takes place in 1980’s Atlanta, Georgia and is written in the narrative voices of the main characters Dana Lynn Yarboro and Bunny Chaurisse Witherspoon. At the opening of the novel, Jones introduces the reader to the vivaciou ...more
Nov 03, 2012 Rowena rated it really liked it
An intriguing story about an African-American man, James, who is a bigamist. James is married to two women at the same time,and has a daughter by each of them. The weird thing is James is actually a good man and it's easy to sympathize with his predicament.

I liked the structure of the book; the first half was narrated by Dana, daughter of the second wife, and the second half was narrated by Bunny, daughter of the first wife. As Chaurisse didn't knows that her father was already married, it was p
When you have been the other woman or been other-womaned almost exclusively in your relationships, you begin to think that the world is Mad Men. That it is impossible to satisfy men by being just you within the strictures of a monogamous, hetero sort of relationship, and all it will take is a convenient narrative -- which may or may not be the truth -- told to an open-minded woman over a drink at the bar or on a run to the store to grab bread to find yourself in the crazed mind of one who is bei ...more
May 29, 2011 Hattie rated it it was amazing
tayari jones

When I write a book review, I try hard not to give away spoilers. This time TAYARI JONES took that burden from my shoulder. The first chapter is titled The Secret. The first sentence reveals the secret. "My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist." The many other paragraphs and chapters in Silver Sparrow reveal the lives of two families. Both the Yarboro and Witherspoon families would probably say there is a father and husband in their home most of the time. However, I think each fa
This was a pleasant read for me. It started slow, but when it finally got my attention I didn’t put it down. Jones does a good job of creating imagery. Also conversation among female characters was filled with a lot of cute and sassy phrases about no good men, love and relationships in general. I felt as if the narration was uneven. Meaning Dana was given more of the substantive material. Also there were some unnecessary parts and some parts I felt weren’t explained enough. I could have done wit ...more
I really liked this novel. This was definitely a compelling read. It grabbed me from page one and didn't let go for the entire book. The themes of deception and identity were explored well, from several different perspectives which I thought was very effective! The changing points of view was an outstanding way to allow the reader to get 'both sides of the story.' This story is another reminder of how dishonesty can fracture people and relationships so easily! Tayari Jones is quite a good writer ...more
Feb 27, 2015 Holly rated it it was ok
Shelves: skimmed, 2015-reads
Bookclub selection. I read 50 pages then skimmed & scanned to the end. It's simply not a sort of fiction I enjoy. I just didn't care for the style or tone, nor the over-reliance on similes, clichés, facile observations, nor the florid summations sprinkled through out that make grand statements on life.
Maybe mine was not a blissful girlhood. But is anyone's? Even people whose parents are happily married to each and no else else, even these people have their share of unhappiness. They spend p
Sep 20, 2016 Racquel rated it really liked it
I did not want to like this book as much as i did but it grew on me. So unexpectedley too. I liked that this type of story was told from the daughters' point of view; it provides a different prospective.
What I liked most is also what i liked least about this book: the ending. I started off reading this story expecting the ending. But somewhere between the first and last chapter there was a hope growing inside of me that I was unaware of until the end when I was sorely dissapointed. Not the type
Mocha Girl
The aftereffects of bigamy is the central theme of Silver Sparrow, a novel told from the perspectives of James Witherspoon's daughters: Chaurisse from his legally wed, older, plainer-looking first wife and Dana, the result of an affair with a much younger, attractive "wife," illegally wedded some time after Dana's birth, four months before Chaurisse's. From the onset, Dana's world is shaped by the whims and priorities of Chaurisse's. One of her earliest memories is John telling her she is the "s ...more
This has been on my TBR since 2012 when Tayari Jones was an author at Booktopia and I picked it up for Black History month and to read more diverse books. I am sorry I waited three years, as this was a well written story about two teenage girls growing up in Atlanta. The first line of the book tells you where it is going :" My Father, James Witherspoon is a bigamist." Tayari Jones is so gifted that you just keep going. I read 100+ pages in one sitting and would have finished it quicker had work ...more
Sep 01, 2011 T. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so good. Tayari Jones does a wonderful job of developing the story despite it's many layers. Adultery, deadbeat daddies and grandaddies, and children who have to make something of this mess. I loved it!!!
 Imani ♥ ☮
Mmm I wasn't a super big fan of this one. The narration, split between two sisters who have the same bigamist father, was okay. Although basically the narration was the same between the two of them (as in, the style wasn't different or anything), I thought that it was interesting to see the different points of views of the sisters, one who knows that she is an illegitimate daughter and the other under the delusion that she is part of a whole legitimate family.

The writing was also okay. Not great
Koritha Mitchell
Aug 12, 2011 Koritha Mitchell rated it it was amazing
Toward the end of Silver Sparrow, a character says, "Someone should write a book on the secret lives of girls" (326). Tayari Jones has done just that, and done it beautifully. This is an engrossing story about the lives led by the daughters of a man married to two women. The first half is told by the adult Dana, the daughter of the unacknowledged wife; the second half of the book is narrated by Chaurisse, the daughter of the publicly acknowledged wife.

One of the early reviewers of the novel say
May 24, 2011 Toni rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, 2011
Let me just begin by saying, this is already in my top 5 books of the year and it is just May. It is that good. And I'm not biased because I currently live in Atlanta, where the book is set in the 1980's, and am familiar with the world of the characters. (West End Mall hasn't changed in 20 years!)

Told in the voices of the youngest ones affected, Silver Sparrow is the story of the families of James Witherspoon - one public, one secret. Like most of these situations, the secret family is well awar
Jul 03, 2011 Jean rated it it was amazing
Tayari Jones, does an exceptional job of weaving a very believable tale of two families where the male protagonist is the father of a daughter in each family. She expertly delves into the minds of both girls from their very early lives through young adulthood. The character development is such that one feels empathy for both girls and their mothers but, at the same time, leaves you with a sense of "Wake up and smell the coffee."

While reading this book I kept thinking, Jones must know of a situat
I loved Silver Sparrow. I ended up reading the first 3/4 of the book in one sitting and finished the last 1/4 the next morning.

It was a quick read filled with all the elements that to make up a good story. Engaging writing, good characters, and an interesting storyline. Two of the things that I enjoyed most in Silver Sparrow was the characters. All the characters were well thought out and detailed The other thing that I lived was the writing. I found myself highlighting sentences and passages. W
Ruth Ferguson
A well written story that tells the story of the "outside child" and we see the pain and longing it creates as they careen toward confrontation.

Love to read another story by her soon.
Lyndsay Gates
Nov 01, 2014 Lyndsay Gates rated it it was ok
just "OK". I had great expectations based on the reviews, but it was kind of 'blah'. I finished just because it was for book club.
Jul 21, 2014 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Jamilla Rice
Jun 19, 2012 Jamilla Rice rated it really liked it
An interesting journey led me to this book: one of those winding late-night internet highway rides, cruising from link to link, where you lose all sense of both your starting point and your destination, yet don't care because the trip itself yields so much more than you ever imagined when you began, and before you know it, it's 2:38 am and you're hungry again, but you're too tired to get out of bed until you almost wet it.

Or maybe that's just me.

On my quest to read "the best American novels"--t
Oh how I wanted to love this. I've heard great things about Tayari Jones and her other books and was really looking forward to enjoying this novel, but came away with feeling slightly cheated by it. What started out as quite a fresh idea (a self-made business man, named James Witherspoon, who is a bigamist with his two daughters, Dana and Chaurisse, caught in the middle) just seemed to wimp out once the point-of-view changed and the character development began to wane.

What I wanted from this bo
Jun 25, 2011 Olivia rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people interested in double lives and half lives
This book opens with what seems like a spoiler, and explains itself away throughout the rest of the 350-something pages. “My father is a bigamist,” a girl tells us. And at first sight, that sentence told me what I needed to know about men in this book, and about the women – sisters and wives – who were being kept secret in each her own way. The story is divided in half, just like everything and everyone else in the book. Each half is narrated by one of the father’s two daughters, first Dana, the ...more
Sep 13, 2011 Jaspreet rated it liked it
A few weeks ago, I got an email about the next meeting of the Professor and Partner book club. I was excited to find out that I would be in town and made plans to attend. I had not heard about Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones, but was intrigued by the description. Since things were so crazy here in MA with trying to prepare for the upcoming baby arrival and nesting while waiting to get back into our house, I was not sure how much time I would have to read. Fortunately, things aligned well. The boo ...more
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Tayari Jones is an African American author and winner of the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. Born in 1970, she was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and educated at Spelman College, the University of Iowa and Arizona State University.

She started writing seriously at Spelman College, where she studied with Pearl Cleage, who published her first story, "Eugenics", in Catalyst magazin
More about Tayari Jones...

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“And this is how it started. Just with coffee and the exchange of their long stories. Love can be incremental. Predicaments, too. Coffee can start a life just as it can start a day. This was the meeting of two people who were destined to love from before they were born, from before they made choices that would complicate their lives. This love just rolled toward my mother as though she were standing at the bottom of a steep hill. Mother had no hand in this, only heart.” 13 likes
“Abandonment doesn't have the sharp but dissipating sting of a slap. It's like a punch to the gut, bruising your skin and driving the precious air from your body.” 13 likes
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