I was immediately hooked with the opening line, “My father, James Witherspoon, is a bigamist.”
James Witherspoon is married to Laverne with a daughter, Chaurisse. He has another wife and daughter of similar age, Dana. This is the daughters story, their loves and their relationship with their father. Dana is well aware of the other family while Chaurisse is not and it makes for some very complicated issues as they grow up not far from one another.
Apart from the themes of complicated families, it weaves in the black woman’s experience during the fifties and sixties contrasting with the teenager’s experience in the eighties. The book is divided into two parts, each told from Dana and Chaurisse point of view. At times, I found that they sounded very similar and perhaps being half – sisters, that was the point. But I had to remind myself who was narrating. I enjoyed the characters of the mothers as well as James who despite what he’s done is portrayed as well as you’d expect from a daughter’s point of view. It was interesting how each girl viewed their father and how the perspective changed the more they found out about him. It was a nice revelation about his character.
Dana’s mother refused to move on with her life preferring snippets of James’s time and I didn’t quite buy this aspect. Yet the premise that she was married to James, also give an insight into her character and her motivations.
It was a very easy read, so much so that I finished it within a few days. There were times where I wondered where the tension was, as things ramped up. This one was an enjoyable read, especially during self-isolation and I’m looking forward to reading An American Marriage.