Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

The Sugar Queen was a near-perfect weekend read. Written with a light touch and just a hint of magic, the novel kept me absorbed in the lives of its sympathetic, likeable characters for hours until I reached the satisfying ending.

The novel centers on a group of emotionally wounded people living in the resort town of Bald Slope in North Carolina. Each of them has been hurt by life, and each is trying, in their own ways, to find love and happiness.

The story begins with 27-year-old Josey Cirrini discovering an unwelcome visitor in her closet. Della Lee, the town's bad girl, insists she just needs a place to crash for a few days while she gets her life together. This brash, opinionated woman serves as a catalyst for the events that follow.

Josey's late father, who built the ski resort on which Bald Slope relies for its winter economy, was the richest and most admired man in town. Josey's mother, Margaret, a bitter, unhappy woman, has convinced her daughter she is fat, unattractive and good for nothing but to take care of her mother night and day. Josey has no friends or social life, but harbors secret dreams of world travel and secretly stashes huge amounts of sweets in her closet.

Della Lee pushes Josey into the outside world, where she meets Chloe, a sandwich-shop owner who has just kicked the love of her life, Jake, out of their shared apartment after he confesses to a one-night stand. Jake, a promising young prosecutor, is desperate to win back Chloe, but she finds she cannot forgive until she reconnects with her own past and the things that are important to her.

Josey secretly loves her mailman, Adam, who is Jake's best friend. Adam has settled down in Bald Slope after suffering serious injuries in a skiing accident, but he both fears and longs for the exciting life he used to live.

These characters' lives intersect in sometimes surprising ways as they all learn about living life fully and passionately while trusting their own instincts and desires.

Author Sarah Addison Allen wove subtle supernatural occurrences into this "magic realism" novel that served to further develop the characters without overwhelming the story or seeming unbelievable. She saved her most surprising bit of magic for the story's end.

I thoroughly enjoyed this enchanting novel. The story made me smile and feel grateful to be alive. My grade: A-.


Becky said...

Just wanted to remind you that Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon is this Saturday!

Anonymous said...

Yes! Good luck with the read-A-Thon! - Care (another Cheerleader)