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Book Review: Silver Sparrow

I started reading this at the beginning of the two hour plane ride from Baltimore to Atlanta. I’m not entirely sure, but I don’t think I looked up for more than the two seconds it takes to tell the flight attendant that I’d like a Coke and to accept my bag of These Are Pretzels, Not Peanuts, So You’re Not Allowed to be Allergic. The storytelling of Silver Sparrow is that engrossing.

It tells the tale of two girls who share the same father. His older daughter, Dana, begins her side of the story with “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist.” She is the daughter who knows, but is also the daughter who is hidden. She and her mother watch her sister, Chaurisse, as the two girls grow up, but they are under strict orders from James to never have anything to do with his quote-unquote real family. As Dana grows up, she realizes more and more what her situation means, but tries to content herself in the knowledge that she is more special, somehow better, than Chaurisse and her mother because she knows.

Chaurisse, on the other hand, has a stable family environment; her father has his own chauffeuring business, so his hours being erratic doesn’t put up any red flags for her or her mother. Unaware that she is being watched, or that her choices affect more than herself (for example, Dana doesn’t get to work a summer at the Six Flags over Atlanta theme park because Chaurisse has already accepted a job there), she lives in a sort of blissful ignorance until she meets Dana by chance (she thinks) and is both shocked and delighted that a beautiful “silver girl” like Dana would want to be her friend.

My plane landed just as I was getting to what I thought was going to be THE BIG REVEAL, but I couldn’t read and get my luggage, and meet my ride while still reading, so hours later I finally got to sit down again and be taken on another tiny rollercoaster before THE ULTIMATE BIG REVEAL. The story is so engaging that even though I despise flying with every ounce of my being, I was still annoyed that the plane landed before I was finished.

I really don’t know if I’ll be able to sit down and read the book again–maybe to look for all the hints as I go along–but it feels like some of the magic would be lost were I to do that. I loved the way that Jones spaces out the information so that the book is a series of secrets and surprises, and the first reading is always the best for stories like that.

Jones, Tayari. Silver Sparrow. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Paperbacks, 2011. Print. ISBN: 978-1-61620-142-5

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  1. February 12, 2013 at 1:36 pm

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