Tayari Jones’ new coming-of-age novel is a natural for teen readers. Although Silver Sparrow releases tomorrow, it has already garnered lots of attention, including an interview on NPR’s All Things Considered and the top spot on the June Indie Next List. Greenlight Books in Brooklyn is holding a launch party on Wednesday evening, in the middle of BookExpo and New York Book Week.
There is another excellent interview by Roxane Gay on the Bookslut blog.
I was also interested to learn about Tayari Jones’ involvement with Girls Write Now, an organization that pairs teen writers attending New York City public schools with adult writing mentors.
Adult/High School–Dana and Chaurisse, born four months apart, live unusually connected lives in middle-class African American neighborhoods in 1970s and ‘80s Atlanta. Dana Lynn Yarboro narrates Part I. She lives with her mother, Gwendolyn. Her father, James Witherspoon, visits for dinner once a week. Dana has always known about his other family, but it isn’t until kindergarten that he sits her down and tells her that she is a secret. Gwen and Dana drive around watching his other wife and daughter, the family he acknowledges in public, live their easy lives. In Part II, Bunny Chaurisse Witherspoon tells her story, all the way to its inevitably sad conclusion. Chaurisse and her mother Laverne have no idea that James is a bigamist until the daughters near graduation from high school, and Dana’s curiosity and resentment get the better of her. She befriends Chaurisse in a drug store where they are both shoplifting. Dana even visits Laverne’s beauty salon for a hair treatment. As one might imagine, no one in this story is very happy, and men, both husbands and boyfriends, get a particularly bad rap. Each daughter includes the story of how her mother came to marry James; Laverne’s teen experiences are particularly affecting. The dovetailing narratives of Dana and Chaurisse add considerable appeal to the novel, and their teen voices ring true.–Angela Carstensen, Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City