Monday, May 9, 2011
Today I've got two small book reviews, each of which features a bird in the title.
Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away by Christie Watson, published by Other Press (a small but great literary house) is a very impressive debut novel. First of all, I love the graphics of this cover. So minimalist, yet so evocative. Meet Blessing, a smart girl born to a world of relative privilege in Lagos, Nigeria, whose young life quickly becomes marked by hardship and loss. When her father leaves the family, she moves with her mother and beloved older brother to stay with her maternal grandparents in a remote village. Daily living takes on many new changes, full of both beauty and horror, and the reader gets an up-close look at the tragic exploitations and political fallout the oil industry wreaks on developing countries. Blessing's story of survival and hope will definitely move you as she and rest of her village realize that the power of Nigerian women lies in both their resistance and their resilience. A great companion read (and, I think, a better read) to Chris Cleave's Little Bee. Paperback original $15.95
Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones is published by Algonquin, one of my favorite small publishers. Look out, folks, because this story will draw you in immediately with its opening line, "My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist," and won't let you go. Dana, the daughter from the unrecognized marriage, and Chaurisse, the legitimate daughter, tell their parallel coming-of-age stories in Atlanta in the 1980s, but where Dana's entire life has been haunted by the knowledge of her father's double life, Chaurisse's has been utterly and blissfully ignorant. Things get interesting when the two girls meet at a science fair and Dana engineers a friendship between them. The real power of this story lies in the author's ability to convey so completely the secrets, alliances, agonies, and jealousies that define these girls' lives. Hardcover $19.95