How would you feel if you are the secret child? This is one of the questions I am asking myself after reading Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. In fact, this book has me pondering many questions. It has given me life!
Silver Sparrow, the third novel by Jones, had been chosen as one of Library Journal’s top reads of 2011. Ok, so I am really late on this book. (When it comes to good books, though, better late than never!) While I was picking books for a display at work, I grabbed this book and decided to read it for myself. Something just made me take this book home. Although it took me months to finally pick it back up and finish it, I’m glad I did.
The quick rundown: The story begins with Dana admitting her father is a bigamist. That pretty much sums up this book. James Witherspoon is living a double life. He has his side family, Gwen and Dana, whom the book gives voice to first, and his main family, wife Laverne and daughter Chaurisse. Dana, although born first, is forced to live in secret. In fact, Dana’s whole life, really, is based on her remaining unknown and not disrupting the lives of her father’s main family, particularly Chaurisse. Chaurisse always has first choice of every thing, and lives a loving, carefree life with her parents. Eventually, Dana and Chaurisse meet and become friends, despite Chaurisse not knowing the true identity or intentions of Dana. Once the truth is revealed, the daughters see their father and situations differently.
The author did a wonderful job bringing the other side to the forefront. I hadn’t considered the plight or opinion of the other woman and child, and it was nice to have a different perspective. After all, this does occur in real life. Starting the book off with Dana was genius because I felt pity for her (although not really for her mother). It really has to be a miserable existence living in someone else’s shadow, to be a secret, or grasp at what little scraps of love a parent decides you deserve. If the main family’s side had been featured first, I probably would have had a different opinion.
Surprisingly, despite Laverne and Chaurisse being the ones deceived, I didn’t feel entirely bad for them. See, Tayari did a great job here! The main family appeared arrogant and entitled; I know they had a right to be. Yet, they did not consider how Dana, who was also an innocent party, felt about the situation she was forced into. I knew they were wronged, but I simply couldn’t muster up a few cares to give them, which is really not me! This book made me all kinds of confused but in a good way.
In short, I cannot say how much this is a good book. I’m so glad I finally picked it back up and read it. The novel started a bit slow, which is why I put it down and read other books instead. However, when I picked it back up yesterday, I couldn’t put it down. I like books that force me to question or have different emotions, and this novel did just that. I believe Silver Sparrow is a great pick for a book club. The discussions that can come from this book are sure to be entertaining and thought-provoking.