Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
Algonquin Books, 2011

15-year-old Dana and Bunny are sisters. The only thing is, Bunny doesn’t know it. James Witherspoon has two families. On every night except Wednesday he’s Daddy to Bunny and husband to her mother, but on Wednesday he spends the night with his other family. Dana knows all about this little game and so does her mother. She doesn’t know anything but how to play along and get along with less than her “legitimate” sister. Despite her father’s efforts to make sure the girls never meet, Dana sets things in motion to not only meet, but become friends. As Dana plays with fire we watch as secrets come to life and marvel at what parts of this fragile house of cards get burned to the ground.

With beautiful flashbacks to 50’s Georgia in a tight community we see how Dana and Bunny’s parents meet and get a glimpse into how this horribly complicated lie came to be. Themes of love, betrayal, and obligation are weaved throughout the tale and we have to question whether anyone knows the true meaning of family. I’ve read a review of the book that said that the plotting became unbelievable in the end, but being from the South and being raised by black folks from the same, I will tell you that the story rings absolutely true. If we ever get a chance to chat in real life I’ll have to tell you the story my Nana told me about a woman who was kidnapped by her husband and held captive in the country without shoes so she couldn’t escape.

I’ve never been sure what qualifies a book to be considered YA Lit. The book is told from the perspective of a teenage girl so that’s all I need to put the title in that category and that in no way disparages the quality of the writing. My mother loved this book. My aunties loved this book and I’ve had teen readers who loved it so much they wanted to forget it so they could read it again.
This book is perfect for:

  • 80’s nostalgia geeks
  • People who are suckers for a sprinkling of historical fiction
  • Anybody who drools over family secrets
Book Club Discussion Questions:

  1. The question as to what is “good enough” runs throughout the book. Mama may not be married but what she has is “good enough”. My sister isn’t really a sister, but what we have is “good enough”. Why do you think the women are willing to settle for what the little they have?
  2. Did you expect Dana’s father to react like he did at the gas station? What should he have done?
  3. Dana always feels second best. Do you think she ever reconciles that?
  4. Dana and Bunny think the other has it better. In what ways is that true? In what ways isn’t it true?
  5. All roads leads back to Dana’s father, James. Why do you think he created this mess?
  6. Who does James love?
  7. How did Dana’s past affect the decisions she made romantically in the future? Or did it have a hand in it at all?

If you like this, try:The DitchDigger’s Daughters by Dr. Yvonne S.Thornton

Suggested SoundtrackDebarge: The Ultimate Collection by Debarge

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