Please forgive my tardiness in posting. I got back from Washington, D.C. over a week ago and have been trying to catch up with everything. Plus there’s been a lot of snow. I’m going to blame everything on the snow right now–12 to 18 inches more snow on Wednesday!
Washington was lovely! I saw a lot of old friends, visited Politics and Prose, walked up and down the National Mall, met with a senator’s aide to discuss issues, visited the Library of Congress, and managed to read a whole book while stuck at Logan airport.
I had grabbed Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones off my shelf before leaving because I was going to meet her at an author dinner while in D.C. The fact that it was set in Atlanta intrigued me first. My folks moved there about 6 years ago and I’ve been visiting ever since. It’s a large city, hard to navigate when only visiting for a few days at a time. I loved recognizing the names of places in Silver Sparrow and actually getting some context for them. It’s one thing to drive by a neighborhood, but so much more illuminating to read about who actually lives there.
The novel starts off with a punch: “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist.” Set in a middle class neighborhood in the 80s, we meet the daughters from James Witherspoon’s two families–only one of them knows about the other family however. It’s pretty powerful how much much Jones’ has you empathizing with both families by the end. On the one hand you have the “outside family” who take whatever James has left to give. On the other, his first family struggles with their own sets of problems.
When the two girls finally meet, you know nothing good can come of it. What happens in the end is shocking and heartbreaking, but Jones’s great portrayal of the characters inner lives helps us understand how they react. I really enjoyed reading Silver Sparrow and hope that others will pick it up as well. She’s a talented writer, one that I’m going to keep my eye on.