I wanted to love this book. I mean, a book about a bigamous family told through the point of view of two young daughters? Sign me up! And there were a...moreI wanted to love this book. I mean, a book about a bigamous family told through the point of view of two young daughters? Sign me up! And there were aspects of Silver Sparrow that I genuinely enjoyed.
However, the book as a whole never quite came together for me. Silver Sparrow is the story of two young women, Dana and Chaurisse, who are the daughters of a bigamist father. Only Dana is aware that her father has another family and Dana’s existence must be kept a secret from her father’s other family. The first half of the book is told from Dana’s perspective and the second half is told from Chaurisse’s perspective as she slowly begins to realize that something isn’t quite right with her family.
I thought that this book was a quick, easy read that would probably be great for a beach read. The writing is solid even if the style is somewhat simplistic (similar to a YA novel). I enjoyed most of the characters and I thought that the author did a good job of portraying all the characters involved in this very complicated situation in complex and compelling ways – she didn’t make any of them out to be 100% villains. I also thought that the story and the setting had a realism about them that grounded the somewhat sensational subject matter. You could see this story really happening in this town. I could picture the setting in my mind very clearly.
My problem with this book was that I thought this same story with these same characters could have been told in a much more compelling fashion. To begin with, the narrator characters (the two girls) insist on interrupting the telling of the story at hand in order to tell stories about their parents’ lives which occurred before the beginning of the novel. I don’t just mean an anecdote here or there – entire chapters are devoted to the parents’ backstory. This irritated me – to me, this book was fundamentally about the two girls, not about their parents. The author certainly could have included some of the information in the flashback chapters through normal exposition, but there was just way too much attention devoted to the parents’ backstories – it didn’t add anything to novel as a whole and I always found myself wanting to skip over these chapters.
I also didn’t like the fact that the first half of the novel is told from Dana’s point-of-view and the second half through Chaurisse’s point-of-view. I found Dana to be the more compelling of the two characters and I would have enjoyed it if the second half, climactic half of the novel had been told through her point-of-view. I understand the need to have both of the girls’ perspective in the novel. I just think that the novel would have worked much, much better if the entire thing had been told in alternating viewpoints (chapter to chapter) rather than the first half being about one girl and the second half being about the other girl. I think that the second half of the novel would have benefited greatly from seeing Dana’s perspective.
Finally, I thought that the ending was sort of abrupt. The big reveal doesn’t come until about the 90% mark and it is a rather cliché scene. I was looking forward to seeing how the big reveal actually effected both the girls and their families, but we get to see very little of this. I think it would have been better to have the big reveal happen much sooner (like at about 50-60% through the novel) and then have the book really deal with the aftermath of Chaurisse and her mother finding out about her father’s other family. Even the epilogue-ish scene at the end is very abrupt and it doesn’t give us much of a sense of how the girls’ lives have changed in the intervening years between the end of the last chapter and the epilogue.
There were things that I liked about this novel, but I also feel like there is just so much wasted potential here. This book could have been really great with a few tweaks here and there, but as it stands, it’s just average which is why I’m giving it three stars. (less)