Silver Sparrow (Paperback)

By Tayari Jones

Algonquin Books, 9781616201425, 352pp.

Publication Date: May 8, 2012

List Price: 15.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.

June 2011 Indie Next List

“The unconventional, morally troubling relationships at the core of Jones' Silver Sparrow illustrate the universality of the human quest for acknowledgment, legitimacy, love, and loyalty. As Chaurisse and her secret half-sister, Dana, move toward adulthood, they must shed idealistic notions of romantic and familial love to face difficult truths. A complex family drama, a richly crafted coming-of-age story, and a meditation on the nature of love and forgiveness, this is a gripping story with characters you will not soon forget.”
— Libby Cowles, Maria's Bookshop, Durango, CO
View the List


From the New York Times Bestselling Author of An American Marriage

"A love story . . . Full of perverse wisdom and proud joy . . . Jones's skill for wry understatement never wavers."
--O: The Oprah Magazine

"Silver Sparrow will break your heart before you even know it. Tayari Jones has written a novel filled with characters I'll never forget. This is a book I'll read more than once."
--Judy Blume

With the opening line of Silver Sparrow, "My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist," author Tayari Jones unveils a breathtaking story about a man's deception, a family's complicity, and the two teenage girls caught in the middle.

Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, the novel revolves around James Witherspoon's two families--the public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode. This is the third stunning novel from an author deemed "one of the most important writers of her generation" (the Atlanta Journal Constitution).

Conversation Starters from

  1. Could this story have had a happy ending?
  2. Dana and Chaurisse both tell stories of what happened before they were born. Whatdid you think of this technique? Are there stories about things that you cannot possiblyremember that you feel almost like you witnessed?
  3. There are many moments of truth in Silver Sparrow. What should Gwen havedone when she discovered her pregnancy?
  4. Gwen tells Dana that they have an advantage over Laverne and Chaurisse because theyknow the truth. Is this true?
  5. Should Gwen have married Raleigh when she had the chance?
  6. Is it possible to have a healthy relationship that is not monogamous?
  7. There is so much talk these days about fatherhood—contrasting the deadbeat dad withthe Bill Cosby-type father. How do you evaluate James Witherspoon, who is both?
  8. Is Laverne’s life better or worse for having married James? What about Gwen?
  9. Why do you think Raleigh is so loyal to James? Is this devotion warranted?
  10. Tayari Jones often writes about the way real people interact with history, for exampleGwen’s feelings about the death of Martin Luther King. What do you think of thistechnique? Have you interacted with history? How did it affect your personal story.
  11. In the chapter, “Love and Happiness” there is an appearance of an actual historicalfigure—the woman who threw the grits on Al Green. Were you familiar with this story? Ifyou were, did this chapter change your understanding of it?
  12. Which of the characters was your favorite? Who would you like to know more about?