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The Sweetest Hallelujah

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  790 ratings  ·  171 reviews
An unforgettable story of two courageous women brought together by one extraordinary little girl  

Betty Jewel Hughes was once the hottest black jazz singer in Memphis. But when she finds herself pregnant and alone, she gives up her dream of being a star to raise her beautiful daughter, Billie, in Shakerag, Mississippi. Now, ten years later, in 1955, Betty Jewel is
Paperback, 352 pages
Published July 30th 2013 by Harlequin MIRA (first published January 1st 2013)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,418)
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Dale Harcombe
The blurb on the front which said ‘for fans of The Help’ almost put me off reading this book. I hate being told a book is like another. This is not The Help but it is a very good book.
I was into this story from the first sentence. Billie is a child that eavesdrops on conversations and doesn’t always tell the truth, but she is a delight. She is so full of spunk. She captures your heart, especially given the circumstances she has in her life, which consist of a mother who is dying of cancer and a
Nancy Wilson
After thinking about this over the night I decided that I needed to do a much more detailed review. When I first started reading this I thought ahh To Kill A Mockingbird, but no, then as I moved on I equated it with The Help--but no. This is not a bad book, it is a nice read, BUT it lacks the detail and "rounding" of characters that would make it a GREAT book. The timeline brings up all sorts of unaddressed questions; the abrupt acceptance of the principle issue seems false and the ignorance of ...more
What a disappointment. I found this to be so unrealistic and SO predictable. People previously mad at each other (with good reason, mind you) become the best of friends? In the age of Emmett Till and the KKK, the reader is supposed to believe a white woman legally adopts a black child effortlessly? We're supposed to believe that two women who loved the same man become best friends? The dialogue between these two groups of people is so so sweet it gave me a cavity and not in a good way.

This book
Ann Fox
Predictable and trite. All of the racial problems of the 50's in the South are evident throughout the book but seem to just vanish at the end of the story.
*Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book on Netgalley from the publisher in return for an honest review*

Elaine Hussey is a writer, actress and musician who likes to describe herself as “Southern to the bone.” She lives in Mississippi, where her love of blues and admiration for the unsung heroes of her state’s history served as inspiration for The Sweetest Hallelujah.

I enjoyed reading this book but it failed to leave a big emotional impression though all the ingredients where
Chicken Little
This is an entertaining, although unrealistic book. In 1955 there was a law that made possible for a white person to legally adopt a black child, so that's perfectly fine. No problems there.

What is hard to believe however, even for a work of fiction, is how Cassie breezed through everything... Really??? This is Mississippi in the 50s!! And the worst that happened to Cassie was a racial slur on her immaculate front porch?! It's ludicrous. That was the time of the Emmett Till murder; the KKK was t
I didn't really like my bookclub's last pick, so I was dreading reading this one.

However, I was hooked within the first couple of pages!

This is the story of a little black girl, Billie, whose single mother is dying from cancer (most people would say the story is about the mother, Betty Jewel, but the whole story revolves around Billie, so I see it a little differently). The year is 1955 and the place is the South; so racial tensions are very high.

Billie's mother places an ad in the paper for som
I'm a sucker for any book that tackles race relations, especially in America in the South before or during the civil rights movement. Some have compared this book to the immensely popular book "The Help" and I did see many similarities. Some have also called this another "white savior" book, which was a complaint that was made about "The Help". African Americans, poor and mistreated, come to rely on an angel in the form of a white woman who breaks racial barriers and risks her life, limb and soc ...more
I didn't find this book "trite" or predictable, except the fact that Betty Jewell is going to die. Her desire to place her daughter Billie with someone after she's gone is the impetus for placing an ad in the local Tupelo Mississippi paper pleading for someone willing to raise her daughter which sets off a racist backlash against the women in the story. Cassie Malone a reporter for the paper, and grieving childless widow decides to do a story about Betty Jewell and Billie. She ends up friends wi ...more
Betty Jewel, dying of cancer, is looking for someone to care for her 10 year old daughter, Billie. Someone who is NOT the child’s father. Shakerag, Mississippi, in the middle 1950’s, is a hotbed of racial unrest. When a white journalist hears Betty Jewel’s story and appears to want to raise the black child, both women are in danger.

This is a wonderful story with plenty of twists and turns to keep the plot moving along. The characters are real, speak truly
Jaime Lee
This was an excellent book. The setting, dialect and themes of racial unrest were all very reminiscent of The Help, but easily stood alone inside this story. The added emotional pull that came from the tale of a dying mother, Betty Jewel, who desperately wanted to find the best life possible for her little girl, Billie, was both heart-wrenching and thought-provoking. The third point to the triangle of main characters came in the form of spunky widow Cassie Malone, who unknowingly stumbled upon t ...more
Sharon Chance
With the many acknowledgements of the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, there are many books being released that address the atmosphere and the effects the movement had on people at the time. Author Elaine Hussey takes her readers deep into the heart of Mississippi through the story of one little girl and how a group of women, black and white, banded together to give her a home in her new book, “The Sweetest Hallelujah.”

Hussey creates a story that will resonant with r
I found the characters engaging and interesting but the writing was just not very good. Particularly annoying was the forced "magical realist" element--did you know every time something bad or ominous is about to happen, people hear blues music and smell barbecue? It got to be tedious.

The story was a little too neat for my liking too. The resolution was far too easy. The story takes place in the south during a racially charged time of the 1950s, yet the racial divide seems a little too easy to
I love stories that are set in the south. This book grabbed me from the beginning. I love the magic and ghostly presence of Alice. I was hoping to find out more about her, but that didn't happen. I think the most disappointing aspect of this novel was all of the errors. First his name was Walter, then it was Wayne, then it was Walter. Her name was Billie and then it was Billy, and then it was Billie again. She was covered in guilts instead of quilts. The more I read, the more mistakes I found. I ...more
Harlequin Books
"This novel could have easily spanned another hundred pages and readers would have willingly stayed along for the ride. The issue of race and the consequences of pursuing an interracial friendship are at times hard to stomach, but provide an accurate view of life in 1955 Mississippi. Hussey does a good job of speaking from the perspective of a dying African-American woman, an African-American child and a Caucasian woman; though different in background and circumstance, Hussey merges their storie ...more
Becky Folkes
This book was good enough but nothing too thrilling. The story is sweet and tugs at the heartstrings but I would have liked a little more too it. The young child Billie is frustrating in her determination and stubbornness, she is likable but I did not cheer for her. As for the rest of the characters, I liked most of them and strongly appreciated the strength that all the women possessed.

Aside from this, I found that the end to the story as well as a lot of the plot did not take into full account
Racism in the south is like another character in this story of love and two women- one white and the other black. But calling it a story of love makes it sound sappy and predictable - and that is to short change it. This is a story of worlds crashing and reshaping in the midst of deep heart break! A story of strength and frailty.

Betty Jewel is a washed up jazz singer who burned brightly with Saint a famous trumpeter. But drugs and fame soured everything and Betty Jewel fled from her marriage to
I received this book last year from Women's Fiction, but life and poor health got in the way and the book got lost in the shuffle.

I rediscovered it on my bookshelf, and I apologize for it's late address.

This is an easy to read nice story about a young widow, Cassie, who answers an ad in the newspaper from a young woman, Betty Jewell, who is dying with cancer and is searching for the right person to adopt and raise her daughter, Billie.

It takes place during the Jim Crow era when bad things happen
Andrea Mullarkey
The strangest thing happened when I was at ALA this year...I saw two ARCs in the Harlequin booth that I wanted. Weird, right? Well, apparently this is not your grandma's Harlequin publishing house. The one I ended up bringing home, The Sweetest Hallelujah, is on their Mira imprint and has only the slightest romantic subplot. What it has instead is a hefty dose of civil rights era race relations, unlikely friendships among women and family drama. So I guess it isn't that big a stretch for Harlequ ...more
Loved this book! I could feel the heat and the mosquitoes, smell the barbecue and fried chicken and see the town, the poor part and the rich part! The characters were interesting and fairly believable. The racial tensions just sort of simmered in the background but never boiled over. That is how it was in my hometown also. AS blacks and whites got to know each other, the tensions just eased away. IN the end we are all just people who care about our families.....I recommend this book!
I really enjoyed The Sweetest Hallelujah, so much so that I finished it in under a day and a half! It's like The Help meets Beaches. Even though the story was somewhat predictable and I was a little distracted by how often certain things came up (fried chicken, the smell of BBQ, incessant blues/harmonica music on the wind) it was still an enjoyable and emotional read, and well written. I wish there had been some relationship between Billie and dead Alice that would have explained why she took su ...more
"Betty Jewel would never have let her daughter find out the truth from listening at keyholes, but now that it had happened she didn't have to pretend anymore that she was going to live. Somehow that was a relief to her."

Betty Jewel places an ad in the paper asking for someone to raise her daughter, Billie.

Cassie's husband died a year ago and young; she regrets she doesn't have children after three miscarriages. Cassie works at the paper and when she sees the ad she decides to drive over to Shake
Ceelee Sunshine
When I hear about a Southern novel I just have to check it out. Even better if it is historical Southern fiction! I learned about THE SWEETEST HALLELUJAH by Elaine Hussey through Books A Million Book Clubs and decided to read it despite the mixed reviews. THE SWEETEST HALLELUJAH is a good Southern novel. It's not a *great* Southern novel. 1955 was a turbulent time in the South and all across the U S including Mississippi (Tupelo) where the story takes place. White Hussey made reference to racial ...more
Tricia Rogers
Started out with good, interesting story line and strong characters BUT then it just fizzled. Not to spoil the plot or anything but due to the various circumstances they were facing, one in particular, the friendship between Betty Jewel and Cassie was too quick and too easy. From there on out just ribbons and fluff. Disappointing.
This book was pushed at one of the websites I go to for reading idea and because of that and all the stars it garnered on two different websites, I thought it would be a great book. What a disappointment! The basic idea for the story sounded great but the way it was delivered was terrible. I found the writing to be banal and tedious. No one ever walked anywhere, it was always racing, jumping, bouncing, moving as “quick as a firefly”. There are other examples but you get the idea. And, oh my gosh ...more
Zainab Korah
At first sight I thought that this book was going to be exactly like every other book that I had read set in this time period, but as the characters begun to blossom I was struck by Cassie's ability t heal from the death of her late husband to the subsequent betrayal that led to her love of Billie. I also loved how well Elaine Hussey created a voice for Billie and developed her into a 10 year old that is simply trying to come to terms with her mother's terminal illness.The Character of Betty Jew ...more
This books had a big helping of "Beaches", a heaping cup full of "the Help". a dash of "Dream with little Angels", and a light sprinkling of Steel Magnolias, garnished with some Fannie Flagg vernacular.
This book would have been better if the author had concentrated on one topic instead of twenty. I was never connected to any of the characters and the typos were very annoying.
Katelynn Price
This book was not my favorite. Not that it didn't have a good plot, I just thought that the writing was not the best. Too many cliche sayings for my taste.
The idea was good, but the execution was poor. The writing was stiff and not engaging, and the characters were flat.
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Elaine Hussey is a writer, actress and musician who likes to describe herself as “Southern to the bone.” She lives in Mississippi, where her love of blues and admiration for the unsung heroes of her state’s history served as inspiration for The Swe etest Hall elujah . Visit her at
More about Elaine Hussey...
The Oleander Sisters La petite fille de la rue Maple The Next Page: A Fiction Sampler for Book Clubs: The Returned\The Sweetest Hallelujah\The Mourning Hours\The Tulip Eaters\Teatime for the Firefly\I'll Be Seeing You

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