Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Silver Sparrow” as Want to Read:
Silver Sparrow
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Silver Sparrow

by
3.78  ·  Rating details ·  11,138 Ratings  ·  1,689 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

...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published May 24th 2011 by Algonquin Books (first published January 1st 2011)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Silver Sparrow, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Shanu Red-bone usually refers to an African American with a much lighter skin tone (suggesting mixed race).

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
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
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
...more
Regina
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
...more
Franc
Oct 04, 2011 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
...more
Andre
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
Debbie
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
...more
Rowena
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
...more
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-
...more
Roxanne
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
...more
Elizabeth
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.
Holly
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
...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
...more
Babydoll
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
Natasha
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
Rachel
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
Trudy
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
...more
KaleneMia
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
Jean
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
...more
Amy
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
Roxane
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: http://htmlgiant.com/reviews/silver-s...
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.
Dianne
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,
...more
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
Constance
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
Desiree
With the beginning of the book already letting the reader know that James Witherspoon is a bigamist, there's nowhere to go but to see how this story unfolds.

At first it is easy to sympathize with Dana as the forgotten child but then the story switches to Chaurisse's point of view that makes you question that 'sympathy'. I was a bit saddened at the way the book ended. The author left too many unresolved questions especially from James's point of view (not to mention Raleigh and Gwen). James got
...more
☕Laura
Jan 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
Ratings (1 to 5)
Writing: 4
Plot: 4
Characters: 3.5
Emotional impact: 4.5
Overall rating: 4
Notes

Emir Ibañez
Meh. No me llamó la atención la historia, me daba igual como terminara, por eso la abandoné.
Jen
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
...more
 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
...more
Roy
Silver Sparrow is an excellent novel written in a sure handed manner by a very talented author. It tells the tale of a bigamist, a man living two separate lives, one out in the open and the other in its shadow. His first family is the result of youthful reckless behavior and following the directions of his mother to make things right. Family number two is formed by falling in love as a grown man, but perhaps one who has not matured very much. After all, a mark of adulthood is understanding you n ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Denver Public Lib...: June 13th, 2017 - Book Club Pick 1 2 Feb 21, 2017 06:14PM  
The Reader's Bar: August Book Discussion-Silver Sparrow 72 38 Aug 21, 2014 03:50AM  
2013 Clutch Readi...: Silver Sparrow 57 111 Feb 25, 2013 12:03PM  
African American ...: Countdown to _Silver Sparrow_ and Tavis Smiley! 1 6 Apr 07, 2012 02:47PM  
  • The Taste of Salt
  • 32 Candles
  • Gathering of Waters
  • Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self
  • Orange Mint and Honey
  • My Soul to Take (African Immortals, #4)
  • If Sons, Then Heirs
  • Those Bones Are Not My Child
  • A Taste of Honey: Stories
  • Plum Bun: A Novel without a Moral
  • Perfect Peace
  • Some Love, Some Pain, Sometime: Stories
  • Shifting Through Neutral
  • Ugly Ways
  • When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost: A Hip-Hop Feminist Breaks It Down
  • Babylon Sisters (West End, #2)
2,098 followers
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
More about Tayari Jones

Fiction Deals

  • Mercy Among the Children
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Darkness There: Selected Tales by Edgar Allan Poe [Kindle in Motion]
    $1.99 $0.99
  • An Empty Cup
    $3.99 $1.99
  • I Like You Just Fine When You're Not Around
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Abby's Journey
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Underground River
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Word Game
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Fraulein M.
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Sister of Mine
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Bury What We Cannot Take
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Chomp
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Searching for Grace Kelly
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Bricking It
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Fifth of March: A Story of the Boston Massacre (Great Episodes)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Starfish
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Thunder and Rain
    $9.99 $2.99
  • All Grown Up
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Light of Hidden Flowers
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Olive's Ocean
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Ecstasy
    $13.99 $1.99
  • The Elephant Keeper's Daughter
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Virtues of Oxygen
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Home to Harmony (Harmony #1)
    $11.14 $1.99
  • Dog Crazy
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Towers of Tuscany
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Noticer: Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Who We Were Before
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Reluctant Midwife (Hope River, #2)
    $10.49 $1.99
  • Sin No More (Reverend Curtis Black)
    $10.39 $1.99
  • The List
    $7.99 $2.99
  • Lost & Found
    $5.74 $1.99
  • A Watershed Year
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Savage
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Designer
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Novice: A Story of True Love
    $10.74 $1.99
  • Go Away Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Leaving of Things
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Train I Ride
    $6.99 $1.99
  • We'll Always Have Paris: Stories
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Hidden Flower
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Greyhound
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Heart Mender: A Story of Second Chances
    $9.99 $1.99
  • This Burns My Heart
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Journeys of Socrates
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Annie on My Mind
    $9.99 $1.20
  • An Absent Mind
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Book of Ruth
    $18.99 $1.99
  • Smoke
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Sisterhood of Blackberry Corner
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Covenant
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Digging In
    $5.99 $2.99
  • The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
    $11.99 $12.99
  • The Traveling Vampire Show
    $3.99 $0.99
  • The Long Way Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Going Home
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Girl in the Glass
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Super Sad True Love Story
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Prayers and Lies
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Go the F**k to Sleep
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Fat Chance
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Just a Couple of Days
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Boleyn Inheritance (The Tudor Court, #3)
    $12.99 $2.99
  • The Daughter of Union County
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Fighting Ground
    $6.49 $1.99
  • The Sugar Men
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Last Storyteller: A Novel Of Ireland
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing
    $5.99 $1.99
  • Vengeance Road
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Every Note Played
    $11.99 $3.99
  • Asymmetry
    $13.99 $3.99
  • The Rules of Magic
    $11.99 $4.99
  • Mrs. Fletcher
    $12.99 $3.99
  • The Optimist's Guide to Letting Go
    $11.99 $3.99
  • Ungifted
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Julie of the Wolves
    $6.99 $1.99
  • Mrs. Saint and the Defectives
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Stiltsville: A Novel
    $10.99 $1.99
  • To the Bright Edge of the World
    $11.99 $2.99
  • The Patriots
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Flicker of Old Dreams
    $9.99 $1.99
  • All the Good Parts
    $3.99 $1.99
  • At Risk
    $17.99 $1.99
  • A Scattered Life
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Every Ugly Word
    $3.99 $1.99
  • A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London's Flower Sellers
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Desert God (Ancient Egypt, #5)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack, #1)
    $8.99 $2.99
  • The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds (Malayan #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • An Amish Buggy Ride
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Old Yeller
    $6.99 $1.99
  • The Secret Healer (The Secret Healer #1)
    $3.49 $0.99
  • Elizabeth Street
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Gates of Rome (Emperor, #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • The Unkillable Kitty O'Kane
    $4.99 $1.99
  • It Is Well
    $4.99 $1.99
  • A Sinful Calling (Reverend Curtis Black #13)
    $9.99 $2.99
  • On a Cold Dark Sea
    $4.99 $1.99
  • My Lady Viper (Tales from the Tudor Court #1)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Kings of Broken Things
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Edward Adrift
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Restaurant Critic's Wife
    $3.99 $1.99
“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.” 17 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.” 17 likes
More quotes…