What a talent Tayari Jones is. This is a sad and magnificent book, about the two daughters who share the same father.
Jones beautifully accounts for the pain on all sides; how each character is trying to hold onto what they have (however small) while also wanting more. The choice for the second family is to be second-class citizens — either in their own family (as a secret) or in society at large (as a single-parent family in the 70s and 80s).
I found the father terrible. Jones gives each of the characters a fair hearing, so we understand that James believes he is motivated by a desire to do the right thing. But his actions reveal he is a weak and controlling man. After all, even weak men are powerful, thanks to the advantages conferred on them by their sex. (What an absolute trip it must be to be male in the patriarchy.)
There’s lots more to love — the brilliant, complex girls and their mothers; Jones’s account of class and race; the heartbreaking ending. This will stay with me for a long time.