I have not presented a book binge selection in a while because I’ve been super busy attending networking events, book/blog conferences, doing poetry readings and working on several writing projects. Yes, that is the bustling lifestyle of a blogger and budding author living in New York City folks!
So now that I have just a few moments to come up for air, I wanted to let you know about a wonderful book that I recently had the pleasure of reading. Before we get to that though, I want to remind you about my Books to Binge On feature here on Lyric Fire. It is not a traditional “book review,” but more like a “book discovery report.” I like to let you guys know about work that I find interesting when I’m out and about. A book cover may catch my eye, or I might see an ad in a magazine or hear about a title from a friend on Facebook or Twitter. I give a few tidbits and details about the work so then you might learn something and want to read it. I then invite you to share your thoughts if you do decide to read the title so it becomes more of a group discussion rather than just my opinion.
So, here goes. Tayari Jones, author of Leaving Atlanta and The Untelling, has written a lovely book entitled, Silver Sparrow, which delves into the lives of two Atlanta families bound together by one man, James Witherspoon, who is a bigamist. Set in the 1980’s, we get a view into their world mostly through the eyes and hearts of the two daughters, Dana and Chaurisse. Each share James as a father, but only one daughter carries the weight of that truth.
The book is divided into two parts which allow the reader to experience the tale from both daughters points of view. The dialogue is well written and I found myself floating through it and as I did, I cared more and more about each of the carefully constructed characters. Gwen (Dana’s mom) and Laverne (Chaurisse’s mom) are the two wives and Raleigh is James’ brother from another mother.
Silver Sparrow is a book that will stay with you a long time as the themes about truth, infidelity, sibling rivalry and bigamy are ones that are ever-present in the news and sometimes in our own lives. I actually met Tayari recently at Book Expo America in New York and was able to tell her how much I connected to the story. I was one of the last people in line to get Silver Sparrow and have it signed, but she had just run out! Her PR person reiterated to me that there were no more books, but I smiled and pleaded politely and told Tayari that the themes in the book hit close to home (I just learned last year that I have a sister!) and that I needed to read her book! She was very friendly and made it her business to find me a copy. I went home happy that I had the book, but also charmed by Tayari’s caring nature.
Many things struck me as I was reading this book, but I was especially moved by a line from Laverne on page 187. She was talking to Chaurisse about the ways of men. She said, “Men do things all the time that they don’t mean. The only thing that matters is that he loves you.” She was telling her daughter a story about how the actor George Burns cheated on his wife. To heal his wife’s pain over the betrayal he bought her a diamond bracelet. Remember when basketball star Kobe Bryant bought his wife a diamond ring after he strayed? I guess some things never change. But I digress. I love how Tayari writes from a place of truth about mothers and daughters in this work. My own mother said something similar to me when I was younger. Reading the passage in the book brought it all back to me and prompted me to post my thoughts on Facebook:
I usually get a lot of comments on my posts, but this one didn’t register I guess. The only two responses were “likes” from two guys on my friend’s list. But maybe we can further the discussion here. If you have read Silver Sparrow, please share your thoughts about the book and what themes popped out for you. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you do! It’s an amazing book. Also, please weigh in on my thoughts about girls hand-me-down lies and boys brutal truths. I’d like to know what you think.
BONUS BOOK BINGE QUESTION: Imagine if you knew that your father was a bigamist and had other children. How would it make you feel? Would you try to find the family and get to know your siblings? Why or why not?
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