Saturday, January 30, 2010

Book Review -- Sugar

Sugar Sugar by Bernice L. McFadden

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pearl has had her heart ripped out after the murder of her daughter; Sugar has had her life ripped apart by choices made for her by others. Neither knows, until Sugar moves next door to Pearl, what life has in store for them both.

In my quest to find the alternative to The Help I’m trying to immerse myself in African-American authors, whose points of view lend more authenticity and credibility to the stories of African-American characters. I hit gold with Bernice L. McFadden’s, Sugar.

Set in the rural town of Bigelow Arkansas during the early 40’s-50’s, this gut wrenching novel hits you square in the jaw from the opening pages. Pearl’s daughter, Jude, has been found brutally murdered and raped on the side of the road. For the next 15 years, she lives in a vacuum left by Jude’s absence, but in the comfort of her stoic husband, Joe. Sugar, abandoned at birth to be raised by 3 sisters who operate a “whore-house,” is raised to become a commodity in the family business – a life no one should be subjected. When Sugar moves to Bigelow, the town is horrified. They ignore her, gossip about her and ultimately want her gone. Pearl takes Sugar under her wing and tries to give her a friend for the first time in her life and to recreate for herself what it would be like to have a daughter. When they both try to learn each other’s histories, they are surprised at what they find. Ultimately, Sugar’s relationship with Pearl and Joe puts her at risk with one of her “tricks”, and the results are devastating.

This novel is not for the faint of heart. It is brutal, graphic and gruesome. Life as a “whore” is ugly, filthy, and humiliating. Sugar’s life is not her own. She is nothing but a shell. But the love and friendship Pearl offers to Sugar, shows that there is a chance she can turn her life around. Ms. McFadden’s characters are multifaceted and alive, even if their circumstances show otherwise.

In the end, this novel will envelop you and break your heart, if only for the fact that I’m sure these experiences were the necessary evil for some women.

For the sensitive reader: No question, I would avoid this book. But for all others, go get a copy at the library now!

Book source: public library

Although, this was not one of my original selections, this book qualifies for my Women Unbound Challenge.

View all my reviews >>