This post is inspired by the upcoming Algonquin Book Club’s next program on Tuesday, June 19th at 7:00PM EST. The great news is you can join this book club no matter where you are located, just hop on the webcast: http://www.algonquinbooksblog.com/bookclub/. What is most unique about the Algonquin Book Club is that it is one author in conversation with another. This time beloved author Judy Blume is speaking with Tayari Jones about SILVER SPARROW.
I heard so many wonderful things about this book when the hardbound was released but I just had so many books…and you all know how it goes. So excited when the paperback arrived from Algonquin and I knew I had to clear a spot to read it this time around. And even more exciting to report is that I have two autographed copies of SILVER SPARROW to give away in conjunction with this fun event on Tuesday night.
This is the story of two girls raised by strong mother’s that shared the same father. That might sound similar to many a modern household but in this novel the father goes back and forth between his families as he is a bigamist. Had I read about this book prior to reading it I might have shyed away from it but I am so glad I made a different decision.
The book is organized into two parts, one for each of James Witherspoon’s girls: Dana and Bunny Chaurisse. The girls are four months apart and one of the girls, Dana, lives with the knowledge of her situation where as the other daughter Chaurisse is ignorant to this.
Part I is Dana Lynn Yarbaro’s story you can feel her hurt and anger and understand her struggle given what life had dealt her. She always feels second to her dad’s other family and his other daughter. Dana’s mom Gwen loves her enough for two parents but she is sad about her own situation. After all James Witherspoon lives with them in a house on the other side of town and keeps her and her mom a secret in their apartment. They often go out on spying expeditions to see Laverne Witherspoon and her daughter Chaurisse.
Part II is Chaurisse’s story and told in her voice. While I was expecting to not care for her or her mom, Laverne, given that I had a soft spot in my heart for Dana but this was not how I felt. Jones does an amazing job of creating characters that you really feel for and care about even though the situation she has placed all of them in is less than ideal.
In this part of the book the girls not only meet but they form a bond although only one of them knows the truth. As their lives get more intertwined without the knowledge or permission of James, Gwen or Uncle Raleigh things unravel in the separate worlds that had been established.
This is the story of two families and a man who tries to care for both in the best way he knows how. The only person in his life that knows the truth besides Gwen and Dana Yarboro is Uncle Raleigh. But Uncle Raleigh is not just a friend he and James were raised together like brothers and they are in business together.
The writing was beautiful and delivered a poignant book with characters you grow to love and understand even when you cannot imagine that from the start. What a brilliant move to have the girls share their stories in their own voices, it just reaches and tugs at your heart on every page.
With the dear mention of Judy Blume in the acknowledgement of the book by Jones sets the stage for a special conversation on Tuesday. I myself think Judy Blume holds a special place in many hearts. Do not forget to join the next installment of the The Algonquin Book Club.
Note: If you would like to be entered to win one of the two autographed copies of SILVER SPARROW leave a comment below. Contest for winning closes Tuesday night June 19th at midnight PST. Books for giveaway supplied by Algonquin Books.