In SECRETS OF A SPARROW, famed singer Diana Ross gives an overview of her life, career, goals, and anxieties. After an account of her nearly disastrous Central Park concert in July of 1983, Ross writes about growing up in Detroit during the 1940’s and 1950’s, her early success with the Supremes and Detroit’s Motown label, her subsequent solo career as a singer and actress in such films as LADY SINGS THE BLUES, her two marriages, and her five children. Ross’s mother stands out as the first pivotal figure in her life. Berry Gordy, the artistic and business genius behind Motown’s success, is another. While Ross presents herself as a fighter, full of determination as well as ambition, she emphasizes her indebtedness to others for forging her personality and creating important opportunities for her to pursue.
Ross expresses the greatest thanks of all to her children. She insists that, as much as she craves her work (which is a lot), her children come first.
This is an easy book to shoot down. For one thing, it reveals precious few secrets. Ross defends herself against various critics, but never in satisfying detail. Indeed, the amount of solid information in this book is disappointingly low. In addition, Ross is often condescending and always self-absorbed, probably not an image she wished to convey.
The lack of accomplished image-building, however, is one of the things that makes this book worthwhile. Even in her evasions and excesses, Ross does present a little piece of her heart to readers. There are also occasional revelations of note and tons of photographs to enthrall readers and nonreaders alike.