Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sugar: A Novel by Bernice L. McFadden

Taken from the back of the book:

     Since its first  publication a decade ago, Bernice L. McFadden' award-winning debut novel Sugar has touched the hearts of thousands.  Celebrating ten years of literary acclaim, this anniversary edition brings this timeless tale of a mother's loss and transformation to a new generation of readers.

     Evoking the rich atmosphere of the deep South, Sugar tells the story of a young prostitute who comes to Bigelow, Arkansas, to start a new life.  Sugar moves next door to Pearl, who is still grieving for the daughter who was murdered fifteen years before.  Over sweet potato pie, an unlikely friendship begins, changing both their lives - and the life of an entire community.

     Sugar brings a 1950s southern town vibrantly to life, with its flowering magnolia trees, lingering scents of jasmine and honeysuckle, and white picket fences that keep strangers out - but ignorance and superstition in.  To read this novel is to take a journey through loss and suffering to a place of forgiveness, understanding, and grace.

My thoughts:

At first I wasn't sure that I was going to enjoy this book as much as I did.  The beginning was slow and the writing a bit uneven, but the author drew me in with the characters of Sugar and Pearl.  As soon as she put these two women together the story came to life and the writing flowed with such ease that I was finally able to lose myself in the story.  And what an interesting story it was.  Overcoming separate and horrific tragedies, Pearl and Sugar form a bond that opens up their hearts and minds to finally embracing the joys and wonders that life has to offer.  Pearl finds herself discovering the joys of walking around the house naked, listening to music at a juke joint, and engaging in afternoon delights with her husband, Joe.  Sugar experiences falling love and the revelation that prostitution does not have to be her line of work, because she is worthy of respect, kindness, friendship and love.  McFadden touches on a variety of topics within her novel, such as: friendship, mother-daughter relationships, death, sexual abuse, verbal abuse, abandonment, loneliness, identity, race, etc.  Her ability to include such serious issues with such intensity and vividness makes for a strong debut novel and makes me want to seek out more of McFadden's works.  I would definitely consider Sugar to be a good read. 

Happy reading! And now I'm off to tackle another book.

P/S Thanks to Bernice for providing me with a copy of, Sugar!


Lisa said...

This seems to be a book that every is enjoying. I'll definitely have to add it to the wish list.

Ash said...

I've heard of Bernice McFadden before but not this novel specifically. I might have to check this one out!

Meredith said...

I'm glad you liked it; personally, I'm a little tired of 'down and out' stories from the South where people are constantly trying to heal. I realize that's a very cyncial point of view, but there's just a plethora of novels about that, as well as the plethora we had to go through about the Middle East with Kite Runner, etc. It just becomes so wearying to hear everyone's tale of sorrow when we're all carrying some way down deep.

Obviously, it's good that you were the reviewer for this book!

Vishy said...

Lovely review, Nadia! The story looks really interesting and touching and I also love the cover of the book. I liked very much this description of the book that you have quoted - 'white picket fences that keep strangers out - but ignorance and superstition in'. I haven't heard of Bernice McFadden before and so she is a new discovery for me. I remember that the heroine's name in 'The Crimson Petal and the White' by Michel Faber is also Sugar :) I am going to add McFadden's book to my 'TBR' list.

I also love the new look of your blog - beautifully surrounded by wonderful books :)

Matt said...

The library automatically generates a list of books that I might be interested in and Sugar is one of the books. I wasn't sure if I'll like this one but after reading your review I'll give it a try. :)

Athira said...

I loved this book when I read it too!! It was quite delightful and yet poignant!

Btw, your blog's new layout is looking good!!

Wallace said...

Hmmm... might have to add this to the TBR list. Looks interesting!

Anonymous said...

I've never heard of this book before and am now intrigued. This is definitely now on my TBR list. Thank you so much for the review!

bermudaonion said...

I'm glad to see the great characters in this book saved it!

Lisa said...

Book arrived--thanks so much!

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