Tag Archives: Silver Sparrow

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1-29-18 #IMWAYR

Meme badgeI lied when I said I was going to go right on to the final book in the Neapolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante. But I’m going to read it soon!

Right now I’m focused on reading the first of two books I received to review for Library Journal this month.

The House of Erzulie by Kirsten Imani Kasai is written in alternating contemporary and historical chapters. I’m about halfway through and am very caught up in both past and present stories. It has the feel of a Southern Gothic and I’m looking forward to finishing it this week. The book will be released on February 21st.

I also just finished Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent and started The Walls by Hollie Overton. I just can’t seem to stop reading these trendy psychological suspense novels, but I tell myself I’m doing it to keep on top of current fiction fads for work.

In audiobook listening, I just finished Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones, read by Rosalyn Coleman Williams and Heather Alicia Simms. It’s divided into two parts, each narrated by half-sisters who are about the same age, but only one knows the other exists. The book’s opening line: “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist.”

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Excellent story with fully developed, nuanced characters. Highly recommended, if, like me, you never got around to this one when it came out back in 2011!

This week I’ll be listening to Book #3 in Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series, Faithful Harbor. Each book is narrated by a different detective and this one is Frank Mackey. Mackey’s sense of humor is wicked, sharp, and dark. I’m also learning how to swear spectacularly, Dublin-style.

audiobook cover image

I’ve got a great week of reading ahead! Please let me know what you’re reading in the comments!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR) is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are, and about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever-growing TBR pile! This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at Book Date.




A Thread of Sadness: The Untelling by Tayari Jones (Audio)

Cover image of The Untelling audio editionIn The Untelling, an emotional roller coaster of a second novel by Tayari Jones, author of the critically acclaimed novel Silver Sparrow (Algonquin, 2011), only Aria Jackson’s prickly mother calls her by her given name, “Ariadne,” a too-grand name from Shakespeare that Aria – who already stuck out in school due to entering puberty very early – never felt comfortable with.

Aria and her sister, Hermione, along with their mother, survived the single-car accident that killed their father (the driver) and six-month-old baby sister Genevieve when Aria was only nine and the family was on the way to her dance recital. At age 25, Aria has graduated from college, gotten a job, and is sharing an apartment in an un-gentrified neighborhood of Atlanta, Georgia with a friend, but she still remembers the accident vividly – how her father swerved to avoid an oncoming car, how the cake she was holding in her lap was ruined, and how “silent and impossibly bent” Genevieve looked in her mother’s arms as her mother hurried out of the front passenger seat, leaving Ariadne in the back.

This traumatic car accident left the Jackson family broken, financially and psychologically. The Untelling is the story, narrated by Aria, of how she tries to go on to have a normal life, despite being permanently branded as different from girls with whole families. Reading between the lines, the reader gathers that Aria has never felt that she really belongs, has few friends, struggles to act natural around people, and regrets not having the close-knit family she had before the accident.

The audio edition of The Untelling (AudioGo, 2005,) is narrated very well by Michelle Blackmon. It must have been hard to figure out how to pitch Aria’s voice because of her unusual personality – a mix of naivete and defensiveness; the reader can’t be sure how perceptive she is about her roommate, her boyfriend, her mother, or even herself. Other characters in the novel range from Cynthia, a neighborhood crack addict, to Lawrence, Aria’s boss at the nonprofit literacy agency she works at who wants to adopt a baby with his partner, and Michelle Blackmon differentiates the voices well, without making the male voices unnaturally gruff or deep. All of the main characters in the book are African-American – an interesting perspective for readers outside of the black community who are accustomed to reading white-centric fiction – but race isn’t a theme of the novel.

Readers who liked The Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate (also a first-person story of a woman with a messed-up family) or who like realistic novels about women’s lives of quiet desperation will be moved by Aria’s story in The Untelling. (Most mainstream reviews I’ve seen give away a lot of the plot, so beware of spoilers, even visiting the publisher’s Web site.)

I haven’t read Silver Sparrow yet, but plan to soon.

The Untelling
Jones, Tayari
Narrator: Blackmon, Marjorie
ISBN-13: 978-0-7927-3638-7
Length:  8 Hr 25 Min, on 7 CDs