“Tayari Jones has taken Atlanta for her literary terroir, and like many of our finest novelists, she gives readers a sense of place in a deeply observed way. But more than that, Jones has created in her main characters tour guides of that region: honest, hurt, observant and compelling young women whose voices cannot be ignored… Impossible to put down.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
“My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist” – A book that begins like this is sure to pique the mind and this one is a beautifully worded story from the POV of two girls who share the same father but different lives.
Dana Lynn was made aware very young that she was an “outside child”, born to a man who was already married and had a family when he met her mother, Gwendolyn. Her father, James, has kept his life with Dana and her mother secret from his wife Laverne and daughter Chaurisse.
Dana has always been told that she is lucky to have a father at all as that is a rarity in the times they live in and her mother is constantly fighting to ensure that her daughter doesn’t lose out on opportunities that James gives Chaurisse.
Her life is tailored to not intersect with that of Laverne and Chaurisse so that James can maintain the status quo. She is mostly indifferent about the situation for her mother’s sake but does wonder about the girl who is her sister but doesn’t know she exists.
When Dana meets Chaurisse and becomes friends with her without telling her the truth, the careful facade of all of their lives starts breaking until it gets to a point where it cannot be maintained.
I mostly felt angry at James who actually justifies his actions and his decision to marry two women and his claims that he is just to both seem pathetic. His attempts to assert his rights as a father over Dana are even more outrageous given his own life choices and seem very hypocritical.
This is a tale of two women caught up in a situation not of their making except one doesn’t even know the truth of her life.
How relationships that we did not choose for ourselves can shape and change our thinking, attitudes, values and life decisions is what this story portrays.
Added 20th June 2020