Silver Sparrow Read-In and Discussion Post

jones tayariToday’s the day! Welcome to my 2nd African American Read-In! This year’s pick is Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones.  Set in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1980’s, it’s the tale of James Witherspoon, a man who’s married to two very different women. Told from the viewpoint of James’ two daughters, readers see how James keep this life of lies going. Silver Sparrow was first published in 2011 and has been included on many best books of 2011 lists.

If you wrote a review of Silver Sparrow, please leave a link of it in the Mr. Linky below.

Feel free to discuss (or ignore) as many questions as you want to. A few of the questions came from Reading Group Guides.com while others are questions that I’ve wanted to ask.

  1. There is so much talk these days about fatherhood—contrasting the deadbeat dad with the Bill Cosby-type father. How do you evaluate James Witherspoon, who is both?
  2. Is Laverne’s life better or worse for having married James? What about Gwen? Does James love Laverne or Gwen? Does he love either one of them?
  3. Why do you think Raleigh is so loyal to James?
  4. Should Gwen have married Raleigh when she had the chance?
  5. Where you surprised to read about Gwen confronting Laverne?
  6. Did you have a favorite character? Did you have a least favorite? Which characters would you like to know more about?
  7. Were you surprised at the ending? Was it ever possible for this story to have a happy ending?
  8. Overall, what did you think of the book?
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25 thoughts on “Silver Sparrow Read-In and Discussion Post

  1. I had hoped to read along, but wasn’t able to find the time. Maybe there is still time for me to catch up and post a review soon! I have heard such wonderful things about this book!

  2. I read this book back in the fall when I went to Santa Cruz for Booktopia. The author spoke at that event and she was great! I really enjoyed this book. For me the best part (and where the tension was created) was the imbalance between the two teenage characters and the eventual uncovering of truth. I really liked the strong, female characters who the reader grows to respect. I also enjoyed Jone’s sardonic sense of humor!

  3. Gosh, I wanted to read along too, but couldn’t find the time. Silver Sparrow sounds good and like a book that makes for great discussion. Enjoy it :)

  4. I am still reading it and my review will up next week. Fingers crossed! But so far I think James is like so many men. In their reality they are doing right with the situations they have created. They have no idea where, when, or how to handle it. They have no real footsteps to follow. James is more of less playing it by ear. I think there are so many examples of men in the same situation. Baby Mama’s and the chick on the side and the wifey situations are everywhere.

    • Yeah, I had the same reaction to James. I think he thought he was doing what was right, but really he was just having his cake and cookie, plus some pie.

      The biggest compliment I can give to the book is that the characters were all sympathetic, even if I didn’t particularly like them. I include James in that. He’s slime, but it seems like he’s trying to do what he thinks is best for both children. Either that or he’s terrified of Gwen.

      • Alysia, yes! I understand why and how Gwen became caught up in James. But towards the end of the book, she really let it consume her. It was never going to end in a good way for her. I do love how she was such a dedicated mother to Dana.

  5. I just opened up my googel reader and saw this post. I just finished Sparrow (randomly) and have been talking about it for days! I grew up in Atlanta, so for me, reading about local schools and malls was really cool. I adored the scalding grits story (which is true!). I looked up the news story, and adore the notion of grits being used as a weapon by a southern woman. I have some favorite quotes, one had to do with a tone of voice “reserved for only alcoholics and babies”. I love love Raliegh, and found myself a bit obsessed with him. Did this story really take place during the “grits” scandal time period? Because my only qualm with the book was something out of place- digital and very much current technology that didn’t fit to me. I adore her writing, however, and look forward to the haunting story of the Atlanta children murders.

    • Neely, I’m glad you decided to join in on the discussion! The first time I read Silver Sparrow, the grits story stayed with me too. It’s so funny that the whole Al Green scandal happened so long ago but women still talk about “boiling grits” when they’re thinking about getting revenge on a man. Raleigh is such a good character with a heartbreaking backstory. Gwen really should have married him. I know why she didn’t but he is a good man.

  6. Pingback: Book Discussion: Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones | Joy's Book Blog

  7. Bother and drat! I forgot or did not know this was happening. I am absolutely terrible at readalongs, even when I truly want to read the book in question.

  8. Oh, I missed this! Like Jenny, I am horrible at readalongs! But I can get this on audiobook, and shall. Thanks for reminding me,

  9. I was a little slow to read this, but in the end, I was glad. Reading it slower than usual really helped me appreciate what Jones did with this novel. I. Loved. It. Dana and Chaurisse both stole my heart. I hope to get my discussion post up this week. Thanks for hosting this, it was so much fun!

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