One devoted man to two families, two daughters born months apart by two separate wives living in the same city. One daughter, who is the secret, knows about the other daughter all while growing up. Imagine that for a minute…going through all the changes and stages growing up girl and you know this story is filled with dramas…not way out there dramas for the entertainment of the community (i.e. reader or community inside the story), but deeply personal ones that show them wrestling, questioning, fumbling, seeking in earnest.
The first half of Silver Sparrow is narrated by the secret daughter Dana Lynn…whose formative years are deeply marked by the loss of a full fledged but loving father and his “other family” and her mother’s determination to ensure Dana Lynn has a better life than her “husband’s” other daughter who is only a few months younger than Dana Lynn. The second half of the book belongs to Chaurisse…whose formative years are marked by the lack of “specialness” which she refers to as “silver” and no sense of achievement and loneliness.
This is now the 3rd book I’m reading consecutively by Jones and what I’m loving is how well she pulls back the layers on personal agonies and dramas. She takes very few glossing overs or global leaps, opting instead to isolate circumstances, events, and thoughts into specific moments without burdening the story with a straight, flat linear style filled with unnecessary descriptions. The story has history, rooted in the lives of the parents and their parents and what occurs even before we arrive on earth shows up as baggage in our lives.
In all three novels, there is a strong theme that the unknown is way more powerful in our lives than the known…whether it is a future we can’t foresee or the weight of living with untruths, half-stories and lies. What also appeals to me is that the main characters grow and do not languish in some self-defacing pity. I’ll be keeping my eye out for future work by Tayari Jones.