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Sugar: A Novel
by Bernice L. McFadden

Published: 2001-01-02
Paperback : 240 pages
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"Think Zora Neale Hurston... Sugar speaks of what is real."The Dallas Morning News

From an exciting new voice in African-American contemporary fiction comes a novel Ebony praised for its "unforgettable images, unique characters, and moving story that keeps the pages turning until the ...

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Introduction

"Think Zora Neale Hurston... Sugar speaks of what is real."The Dallas Morning News

From an exciting new voice in African-American contemporary fiction comes a novel Ebony praised for its "unforgettable images, unique characters, and moving story that keeps the pages turning until the end." The Chicago Defender calls Sugar "a literary explosion... McFadden reveals amazing talent."

A young prostitute comes to Bigelow, Arkansas, to start over, far from her haunting past. 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, transforming both women's lives—and the life of an entire town.

Sugar brings a Southern African-American town vividly 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.

McFadden is the author of the novels Gathering of Waters, Glorious, and This Bitter Earth

Editorial Review

Bernice L. McFadden's first novel begins with the brief, poetic description of a crime so startling that the reader is helplessly drawn in, as if a bright red door stood ajar on a bleak and forbidding house. Pearl Taylor's daughter, Jude, has been found murdered and mutilated near a field at the edge of town. "The murder had white man written all over it," writes McFadden. "But no one would say it above a whisper. It was 1940. It was Bigelow, Arkansas. It was a black child. Need any more be said?" In the years that follow, Pearl catches sight of Jude in so many strangers that when Sugar Lacey comes to town and sets up her unwholesome "business" in the house next door, she doesn't know whether to believe what she sees in Sugar's face: a striking similarity to Jude, dead 15 years. In her sedate but supple prose--rising at times to a light, unforced lyricism in the description of landscape or character--the author perfectly renders the closed and protective society of a small Southern town, the superstitions, gossip, and prying. Although the men of Bigelow are happy enough to have Sugar around, the women do their best to drive her off. Only Pearl is drawn to Sugar, managing to look beyond the rumors surrounding her new neighbor, whose dismal life, she tells Pearl, "had no crossroads." Eventually Pearl shows Sugar the ballerina-topped jewelry box in which she keeps snapshots of her dead daughter.
Sugar lifted the lid and saw herself staring back at her. She jerked as if struck. Her hands were shaking as she lifted the first of many pictures from the box. Jude rolling in the grass, Jude swimming in the lake, Jude sleeping, Jude laughing. Sugar's head was swimming. If someone had brought these pictures to her and said, 'Here you are in the life you can't recall,' she would have believed every word of it and ignored the slight differences that remained between Jude and herself. Jude's smaller nose and thinner lips, her rounder eyes and fuller brow. But the smile was the same; sure and solid. Sugar knew that smile, it was her own.
Slowly, the secret connections between Jude and Sugar unfold against a backdrop of suspense and the return of violence. This is an ambitious and feeling debut from a promising writer. --Regina Marler

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  "Sugar"by FriendshipSisters (see profile) 06/09/11

Bernice McFadden's debut novel, "Sugar", is an interesting story of lives of the deep South, 1950's. There were spots where I thought the book was a bit slow. It is also my opinion, that th... (read more)

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