Tag Archives: tayari jones

Silver Sparrow: A Review

Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones
My rating: 3.5 of 5 star

This was the pick for November for the Modern Mrs Darcy Book club. I had read her other book, An American Marriage, which I reviewed here. So, I knew what I was getting into when reading her novels.

Her books make me feel uncomfortable. They are full of very flawed characters and sad situations. But what she does well is she shows how people survive in flawed, sad situations. It’s not an optimistic worldview, but there is still some hope.

James Witherspoon is a bigamist, living in Atlanta. His first wife and daughter don’t know about his second family, but Dana Lynn and her mother know about them. It affects Dana in so many ways throughout her life. And when revelations come to light, there are no winners.

The book is divided into two parts, the first from Dana’s perspective and the second part is from the perspective of the second daughter, Chaurisse. The limitations in these perspectives really reveal the truth that we don’t know everything that is going on in another person’s life. At one point in each part, the girls talk about each other and better the other life or person, not knowing all the pain that they have gone through.

It is well-written, but very sad. I’m not sure if the book is one for me because of how frustrated I get with the characters and the situations. It’s amazing how emotionally connected and invested I get, but the end, I just get depressed. So, I really struggle to rate these books because they are amazing works of literature, but they don’t lift my spirits, so they aren’t books I would willingly gravitate towards. Still, I think they are important to read to understand people around us who may not be like us.

There is a profanity in the book. There is also sexual content. I made note when reading this that said, “Everyone has sex in this book.” But sexual content played a significant part in explaining plot and character flaws. There is also a little violence, mainly in a story that is told throughout the book about this famous, or infamous, girl who pours grits on Al Green. Other than that, there is a little pushing people, but no real serious violence. There is some mention of rape, but not violent, yet a significant plot point.

An American Marriage: A Review

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a contemporary fiction that was pretty popular a couple of years ago.  I believe it was an Oprah book club pick.  It is set in the south, mostly between a town called Eloe in Louisiana and Atlanta, Georgia.

The story starts with Roy being convicted of something he didn’t do.  While visiting his parents, he and his newlywedded wife, Celestial, are staying at a motel where an assault happens.  The victim pins the crime on Roy, and he is convicted, sentenced to 12 years in jail.  This conviction knocks Roy off the path he thought he was headed on – the good job, the house, starting a family. 

During this time, Celestial is now the wife of a convict.  She has to navigate the stigmas as well as find some path through the next 12 years.  Their relationship suffers, and she turns to a friend, Andre, to lean on, which develops into something more.

I really didn’t like Andre’s character.  I didn’t agree with a lot of the choices that were made in this book.  They made me feel uncomfortable.  Although, I also don’t know what it’s like to be falsely accused of a crime and have my whole life turned upside down.  And having to make my relationship choices through that lens.

But I don’t know if the relationships were really the focus, but more so being true to who you are.  Celestial, at the beginning, kind of just flows with whatever everyone wants her to be, and this story really follows her transformation.  Roy also transforms through the time he was in jail.  The story was very real and raw.

There is a lot of profanity.  Sexual content includes abortions, descriptions of naked bodies, talk of rape, implications of sex, with one detailed sex scene.  The violent content includes a fight scene, implications of suicides that happen in prison, as well as the assault/rape at the beginning of the book.

Overall, it’s about two people who faced an unjust justice system.  But it was also about people who were growing up, figuring it out, and letting go to find their settled good.  My favorite part of the story was Roy and his mother’s relationship, as well as the relationships of the older generation.  Interesting read.