Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile

Queen SugarCharley Bor­delon, a young widower and mother of 11-year-old Micah, receives a surpris­ing inheritance when her father dies. He’s left her 800 acres of sugarcane land in Louisiana…with strings attached. The land is hers only if she farms it; otherwise, it goes to charity.

Feeling the time is right for a change, Charley and Micah leave their fairly comfortable life in Los Angeles and head back to their roots in St. Jo­sephine Parish. As she arrives she finds that the land’s manager has left and that she will need both help and new equipment, costing far more than she can afford.

With the support of two unforget­table characters — one pulled out of sugarcane farming retirement and the other trying to keep his head above water after losing his own sugarcane farm — Charley begins the hard work of saving her inheritance. In addition to the farm, Charley is pulled into a fam­ily she has barely known, living with her grandmother, Miss Honey, and relying heavily on her cousin Violet for moral support.

As a strong black woman, Charley must learn to adapt to her new envi­ronment, often hostile, and yet accept­ing of her in some surprising ways. This novel not only addresses the role of grit, family, and betrayal, it also takes an unflinching and honest look at race relations in the deep South. While there is room for much anger in the continued inequality and bigotry, the author also shows us forgiveness, gen­erosity, and hope.

Pamela Dorman Books/Penguin; ISBN 978-0-67002-613-5; $27.95.

Queen Sugar: Reader's Guide

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