Tidewater Review by Anne Stinson
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. 352 pp. $19.95. Flat out, the first sentence in this novel reveals the “secret” of what the reader can expect. “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist.” That’s Dana Yarboro speaking in Part I of this book set in a middle class black neighborhood in Atlanta in the mid-1980s. Dana minces no words. She’s aware there’s another wife who married Mr. Witherspoon without the nicety of divorcing Number One, which makes things sticky. As Jones writes, “With wives, it only matters who gets there first. With daughters, the situation is a bit more complicated.” Dana knows she has a half-sister just four months younger than she is, but the other girl hasn’t a clue of their connected relationship. Dana’s mother is Wife Number Two. When the story begins, both girls are in their early teens and go to the same school. To be fair, Dad is not a bad man. He simply felt
he should make an honest woman of Dana’s mother when he found out she was pregnant. He visits Mrs. Gwen Yarboro (she kept her maiden name to prevent scandal) and Dana one night a week and loves them as much as his “official” family.