Monday, June 13, 2011

A Book Review of Silver Sparrow By: Tayari Jones

When I'm reading a book, there are a couple things that let's me know whether the author is doing a good job or not. If I find myself, not able to put the book down even when I'm sleepy, then it's a good book. If I find myself laughing out loud or tensing up, it's a good read. If there are phrases in the book that I mark on my mental post it notes, it’s a good book. And if I'm left with so many questions and emotions that I have to remind myself - it's just a book….

I started reading Silver Sparrow late Saturday night. I was completely exhausted but I couldn't wait to get home from church to pick it back up. The book seemed to be written from two different characters' points of view. I'm always reminded that in life there is my side, someone else's side and "the truth." Well in this case, each girl had their own truth and outlook. They were telling the story through different lenses. It is really fascinating how God created us and that we see the world through different lenses. For instance, my sister and I can be describing the exact same event from childhood and yet the view and the story looks totally different.

After reading the first character's story, I immediately chose sides without ever having to hear from the other girl. It is sometimes true that people make up their mind about things and then look for evidence to validate their position, rather than hearing it all out and then making a decision. I'm sure I must have some bias or identify in some way with the character, Dana. I'm not even sure the author wrote the story in such a way that you needed to pick a side. It wasn't really a competition or was it?

There were several themes in the story that stick out to me, some of which women of color have been dealing with for what seems like eternity. No, it's not the skin color issues, but something even more tricky, the hair thing. When I read the author's description of Dana's mom, I could see her so clearly in my head. Even though the girl's in the story had different views on a lot of the events, it's certain that almost everyone in the book saw Dana and her mom the same way asthetically. These two main characters were sisters with the same father, but different mothers. One sister had what would be described as long and thick pretty flowing hair and the other one, well her hair was so "regular" that I can't even recall the description. I just know that she eventually covered it up with weave.

Isn't it amazing that even when we (black women) don't have the skin color issue to compete with, we find something so trivial as hair?

What I thought was rather ironic was that both girls had something that the other desired. Which is so similar to real life and how we sometimes think we'd be better off if we just had what someone else has.

One of the things that I can't quite stop thinking about in this book is how it seemed that throughout her life, Dana continued to be given less and eventually settle for less. While some instances of her getting the short end of the stick were totally uncontrollable for her, there were some areas that she could control and yet, she consistently settled for less than she deserved. That left me wondering, how many times have I settled for less than I deserved? How many women are use to the short end of the stick and now consider it the norm?

I read a lot of books and I always expect a happy ending. And most of the time, I'd say at least 80% of the time there is no happy ending. In this book, I finished upset. There is a line that is stuck on my spirit, "The more I'm trusting you, the more you're letting me down." Now that "YOU" can be so many things.. But it had a more personal meaning to me. When I closed that book I was very upset at the ending. I continue to ask myself why I expect the best out of people and some of them just keep "letting me down."

If you haven't read the book yet, you're missing out on a good read. There are some things that just aren't tied up nicely in a bow and you're left with questions that you have to form your own ending or reasoning to. But I guess that's the sign of a good book. One that leaves each reader with an imprint and questions, allowing you to create your own fantasies.


BlackLiterature said...

Very good read!! I liked that the ending wasn't "perfect". The learned "spying" and envy that started with daughter 1 and shifted to daughter 2.

BTW, My moms group is reading The Help and planning on seeing the movie. Let me know if you are interested.

chele said...

I loved the book. I thought the girls' different perspectives were very eye-opening. I thought the ending was very realistic and I appreciated the fact that everything didn't end neatly. Just like life.

discodiva73 said...

I was also on Dana's "side" but I thought that was because we so SO much of it before we could meet Chaurisse. Typically POV changes for each chapter so its more balanced. By the time I was hearing Chaurisse voice, I was already too invested in Dana.

I hated the way she only got what she chould have if Chaurisse didn't want it. And Chaurisse had no idea how she was influencing someone else's life. I don't know why James made Dana feel so small and insignificant. That was really sad to me...especially when he left her. I thought d@mn, can't Raleigh stay until the mother comes?

I loved the Al Green undertones and story throughout the book. I knew she through grits on him...but didn't realize she also killed herself.

I think its a good read and a great discussion book because there were so many issues that came up.

BK said...

just added this to my list of reads. I have 3 books to finish then I'll download on my kindle. thanks!

LadyLee said...

Well you know I liked the book. I was fortunate enough to be on the early critique team! Tayari's my Peeps!! *throwing up SWATS gang signs*

If anyone wants a chance at a free copy, I'm giving away FIVE signed copies this week? FIVE. And she signed them! So leave a comment on Monday's post.

Yeah I used your comment section for some stuff over at House at LadyLee... what YOU gonna do about it? Humph. (Nuthin. That's what I thought). LOL!!

Good discussing it all with you on email this merning, Chicken...

Shai said...

I agree with DiscoDiva. I was invested in Dana. I felt for her when James would dismiss her and want to protect Chaurisse.

I would love to know some more about James and how he was able to do this.

Monique said...

*I'm finishing another book right now but i definitely be downloading this to my kindle app*