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Silver Sparrow

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  13,476 ratings  ·  1,940 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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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  13,476 ratings  ·  1,940 reviews

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Wilhelmina Jenkins
Jan 11, 2011 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
Elyse Walters
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is my first book I've read by Tayari Jones. I enjoyed it very much. The majority of story takes place during the 1980s in Atlanta. "Atlanta ain't nothing but a country town".

"Silver Sparrows" is about two families. James Witherspoon is a bigamist. He was already married ten years when he first meets Gwendolyn ( Gwen).

The first half of the book is told by Dana Lynn Yarboro .(Gwen's daughter). Dana tells us how her mother and James first met. ( gift wrapping counter). Dana's mother knew Jam
Oct 04, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Jul 11, 2011 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 29, 2011 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
Tiffany PSquared
I hated that I waited so long to read this book.

Tayari Jones walked my neighborhood, along my streets, past stores I shopped in and restaurants I ate at in Atlanta. Her characters went to schools my friends went to and many of their experiences were mine too. Those nostalgic 80's when life seemed to be bathed in neon and everyone wore jellies, but not even bright colors could cover up some of the scandals that rocked the local hair salons with gossip in real life and also in this almost-true-to-
Feb 05, 2012 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
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
The premise of The Silver Sparrow is so enticing! Narrated by two girls, one year apart in age, who both live in Atlanta and whose father is a bigamist. One knows, the other doesn't. Unfortunately, the book slumps along and never gets off the ground. I'm rating it 3 stars because it is readable, has great promise and was clearly good practice for An American Marriage.
Jan 30, 2012 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
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars

Narrators: Rosalyn Coleman Williams, Heather Alicia Simms - four stars... fabulous job ladies :)

Dragged a bit at times but never boring and there were some things I wish had been expanded upon more but I really enjoyed the story despite my small problems with it.

This will make you laugh, angry, and break your heart over the course of the story. It was easy (at least for me) to get drawn into the lives of these people and the inevitable trainwreck you know will happen at some point.
Aug 27, 2011 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.
Feb 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A rather stunning, richly detailed novel. I loved it very much. You can peep my full review here tomorrow:
Oct 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick easy to read coming of age tale about two black teenage girls Dana and Chaurisse growing up in 1980's Atlanta who find out they are sisters when their father's secret lives are discovered. I'm not sure I've ever read a story about a bigamist before, but here James Witherspoon survives his duplicity with much better treatment than he deserves.
Read for 10/18 KUYH club 3.5 stars for being predictable and somewhat emotionally flat for what I'm guessing would be an intensely charged situatio
May 27, 2011 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
Jessica Woodbury
Jun 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: authors-of-color
After I thoroughly enjoyed Jones' new novel, AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE, going back to her first novel was an obvious choice. Everything she did so skillfully with her second novel--switching points of view, making you empathize with characters you despised a few pages earlier, creating complex moral issues of family and loyalty--she does with SILVER SPARROW as well.

Our characters are two teenage girls, half-sisters, the daughters of a man who married his mistress despite already being married. Only
Feb 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015-reads, skimmed
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
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
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
“My father,James Whitherspoon, is a bigamist.”
This is the first sentence of SILVER SPARROW. In this book, Tayari Jones, exquisitely exposes the raw edges of two families. Of course, she presents the the dilemma of two women, one aware and the other unaware, sharing one man. However, the relationship between the daughters of these unions is what is in the forefront here. No one could ever say James Whiterspoon was not a caring attentive, and supportive daddy. However, his diligence in this area
May 10, 2011 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
Nov 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this story from the standpoint of the two daughters' point of view. It made it enlightening to see how it impacted the children when we're used to just thinking about the adults since they are the ones who make these decisions that so impact their lives. The ending wasn't the standard sugary sweet but more realistic although not ideal. I love to see a happy ending or the underdog come out on top but that's not real life. I'd love to read about the daughters' lives going ...more
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
The book started off pretty well. The storyline was intriguing and seemed a bit familiar. However, I found it very difficult to like any of the characters in the story. I think that the author should have chosen to share the stories of Dana and Chaurisse at the same time instead of first giving Dana's view then Chaurisse's. By the time Chaurisse time had come, I was already a bit bored. I do think Jones has great potential in penning a good novel. She just missed the mark on this one.
Cheryl James
Sep 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: favorites
Enjoyed the message. Didn't really care about hearing the story from the daughters perspective. I would have liked for the story to just flow. The story ended with so many unanswered questions. I'm hoping for a sequal.
Lauren Cecile
Oct 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable, but I wish the author had taken it to an even deeper (social-psychological) level.
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 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
Jul 16, 2018 rated it liked it
This read is cool. Jones is an excellent writer, her stories just aren’t for Mi so do not let my 3 star rating deter you, you just might enjoy🤷🏽♀ ...more
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
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an enjoyable read, although not particularly about an enjoyable subject. The first line is the hook! "My father, John Witherspoon, is a bigamist." I really appreciated that, Tayari Jones, told the story in two parts, through the eyes of John Witherspoon's two daughters. One from the "public" family and the other the daughter in the"secret" family.

I empathized with the "secret" daughter Dana and felt for her. I had a harder time relating to Chaurisse. This book takes place in the 1980's,
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Tayari Jones is the author of the novels Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow, and An American Marriage (Algonquin Books, February 2018). 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 Co ...more
“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.” 21 likes
“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.” 19 likes
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