05 May 2011

Book Reviews in Brief, or Reviewing Two Birds with One Stone

It has been a long, difficult week. First I had to work extra hours at the bookstore when someone called in sick.  Then my laptop called in sick.  Then I had to work more hours at the bookstore when someone else called in sick.  So it's been twelve hours on the sales floor today, but on the upside, I get to hear author Geraldine Brooks do a reading tonight.  I've been so out of the swing of things that I thought tonight would be the night to have time to do a Top Ten Tuesday post.  When I went to my blogger dashboard to see what the topic was, imagine my surprise to see that it's already Thursday!  Apparently I'm two days behind this week, which explains a lot.  But the upside of that is that today is Cinco de Mayo, so my coworkers and I will be drinking some Coronas and some jugo de naranja (yeah, one of 'em is sick) after the author event. But enough of my small life.  Tonight 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 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

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. 


  1. I haven't heard of either of these title, so thanks for spotlighting them. I love reading about subjects that I don't have much experience with, and both of these books fit the bill. Hopefully your weekend will be much more relaxing than your week has been!

  2. These sound great, Emily. Hope you have a nice, restful weekend.


Please, sir, may I have some more? (Comments, that is!)