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Queen Sugar

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  3,036 Ratings  ·  580 Reviews
A mother-daughter story of reinvention—about an African American woman who unexpectedly inherits a sugarcane farm in Louisiana

Why exactly Charley Bordelon’s late father left her eight hundred sprawling acres of sugarcane land in rural Louisiana is as mysterious as it was generous. Recognizing this as a chance to start over, Charley and her eleven-year-old daughter, Micah,
Hardcover, 372 pages
Published February 6th 2014 by Pamela Dorman Books
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Popular Answered Questions

Susan I did not mention the interacial dating and the prejudice in the farming community toward a black woman farmer which are also themes
Cristal The son was a drug addict and he and the father are estranged, so he only left the farm to Charley. Yes, the two children have different mothers. The…moreThe son was a drug addict and he and the father are estranged, so he only left the farm to Charley. Yes, the two children have different mothers. The son's mother is deceased, and Charley's mother lives out in California.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jan 18, 2015 Elyse rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Charley is a young widowed, African-American, mother, living in Los Angles with her pre-teen daughter when she receives her father's sugarcane plantation in Louisiana.

A completely different environment and lifestyle --there will be many adjustments for both mom & daughter coming from Southern-Sunny California. (modern-city of he world) ....To "Miss Honey's" home in Louisiana, with no cell phone service, no computers, no call waiting, or caller ID, no coffeemaker, no blender, cable, or satel
I'd give this story a 2 but I'm adding a whole star for the cane. I really enjoyed learning about sugar cane.

This wasn't as eye-roll-worthy as The Fixer Upper though the two books are quite similar in that Dad gives yankee daughter property in the south and she has to go clean it up and make it work. Helpful men abound, bitchy old ladies terrorize, and handsome Suthrn Gentlemen come a-callin'
Charly isn't as dim and ridiculous as Dempsey, but she is still quite incapable. She's more like the inno
Mar 12, 2014 Sarah rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, own
You know what's strange for me about this book? It's very descriptive and meandering and yet I felt like the ending was rushed. I liked the story and characters - it was interesting to read about life in the South and what it would be like returning someplace like Charley does after so many years. I got increasingly frustrated with Miss Honey and her adamant stance on Ralph Angel, but at the same time, I found it very believable (I have seen this kind of behavior before). Like I said, though, I ...more
May 19, 2015 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
NetGalley Feedback: I started recommending QUEEN SUGAR to friends almost as soon as I started reading it, and I was jonesing for a mini-series adaptation* before I'd even hit the halfway point. In short, I LOVED this book, and I'm so glad that it was added to NetGalley for its paperback release because otherwise, it may never have hit my radar.

I loved getting insight into an industry about which I previously knew nothing (cane farming), and I loved that this is a story about a woman taking over
Angela M
Jan 15, 2015 Angela M rated it liked it
3.5 stars

After reading this novel, I now know more than I ever possibly wanted to know about sugarcane farming . I have to admit though that it was interesting to learn about what a complex operation a sugarcane farm is .

The story too was complex in some ways and it was definitely not as predictable I thought it might be . Charley Bordelon , an African-American Art Teacher living in California with her 11 year old daughter can barely make ends meet. Life has not been easy so when her father le
Feb 27, 2014 Amber rated it did not like it
This book was extremely difficult to read; I couldn't finish it. Not because it was overly challenging, there was just an absurd amount of over description. I can't count the number of times I read "with its..." or "like a..", followed by a run on sentence of descriptions that weren't integral to the development of the story. They were just descriptions for the sake of it. The story context was something I've never seen before and I would have liked to see how it turned out. The characters were ...more
Shelly Ellis
Feb 01, 2016 Shelly Ellis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I heard that OWN network was making a TV show out of this novel, I dug it out of my mental TBR pile and decided to finally read it. I was pleasantly surprised with this book. Based on some of the other reviews that I've read that said it was slow going, I was expecting a story bogged down by navel-gazing where a lot doesn't happen, but that wasn't the case. I loved the characters (reminded me of my Southern family) and loved the well-crafted details about sugar cane farming, southern cultur ...more
Robin Black
Feb 11, 2014 Robin Black rated it it was amazing
Natalie Baszile does an incredible job evoking Louisiana - I felt like I was there. Her writing is compelling and also beautiful, and her understanding of family and of human determination - and also human foibles - all have the ring of truth. This is an amazing debut novel - the first of many books, I hope!
Aug 25, 2016 Nakia rated it liked it
I kind of had a feeling I'd be bored with it, but I wanted to support the author since she's local. I told myself I'd at least read 25% of it and if I still didn't care about the story line, I'd put it down. Good writing but after 1/4 of the way through this thick novel, the story line still hasn't grabbed me so back to the library it goes. It still gets 3 stars because I'm sure it might get better and like I said, the writing is good. Just not my cup of tea, and my reading list is too long to w ...more
Dee's Reading Zone
Brilliant writing style...deserved a book award or something in that realm!

5 pleasing stars *****

NOTE: I can see this "Queen Sugar"being placed on required reading lists in the near future!
Sep 28, 2016 AlTonya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story was very original and very sad in many aspects. Every triumph seemed to be met with another challenge which spoke to the spirit of what many of the characters were up against. I really wish I’d found more characters to root for. I didn’t like either of the two main characters. Ralph Angel was a terror. I found Charley to be exceptionally weak on a personal level which was strange given how strong she proved herself to be as she worked to bring life to her father’s farm. In her roles a ...more
Book Concierge
From the book description: When Charley unexpectedly inherits eight hundred acres of sugarcane land, she and her eleven-year-old daughter say goodbye to smoggy Los Angeles and head to Louisiana. She soon learns, however, that cane farming is always going to be a white man’s business. As the sweltering summer unfolds, Charley struggles to balance the overwhelming challenges of a farm in decline with the demands of family and the startling desires of her own heart

My reactions
I was intro
This may need a re listen... It started off a little slow then picked up but then I felt it kept dipping into some dull points. I also have a lot going on at the moment so I may not be giving it a fair assessment. I'll definitely amend my review when I listen again but I'd rather do it when my head isn't so cloudy... :-/
Christine Baese
Feb 21, 2015 Christine Baese rated it really liked it
I had to force myself through the first couple of chapters, something about the pace or writing style slowed me down. I am glad I kept at this one. While the resolution to the climax(es) of this story was fairly unsurprising, the writing was solid and engaging. The book tells a story and shares a point of view that is not widely available.

This story moves and African American woman and her daughter from California, back to the south, Louisiana as a sugar cane farmer. The struggles of why her fa
Sophie Sealy
Sep 24, 2016 Sophie Sealy rated it it was amazing
First of all this book is/was nothing like the TV series (after the few episodes I watched), nothing. It started off different and was able to maintain on its own path.

The storytelling is at its best, the writer does such a great job bringing you there which is small town living in southern Louisiana. Sad is an emotion I have found myself in for most of the book but the happiness that peaked out overshadowed the sadness.

It started off slow because I was expecting the TV series but if you treat
Sep 22, 2016 Destiny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a decent book. I give it a 3.5. It was really long. The story of Charlie and her family was interesting. The fact that Charlie's father gave her so much land and she knew nothing about farming says great things about the faith her father had in her and the love he had for her. Ms. Honey was a sweet old lady, makes me wish my grandma was still alive. OMG, that Hollywood was a sweetheart. Ralph Angel's story was unfortunate and sad. I never would have imagined the ending. Where there is a ...more
Leslie Reese
Sep 12, 2016 Leslie Reese rated it really liked it
What happens when a 32 year old widow, art teacher, and mother to an 11 year old daughter inherits land from her late father? In this case, Charlotte "Charley" Bordelon packs up her daughter, Micah, and the life they've been living in Los Angeles, and moves to begin a new life in rural Louisiana with her grandmother, Miss Honey. Charley's father, Ernest, has purposely left his son, Ralph Angel, out of his will and made her the sole heir of 800 acres of sugarcane land with clear stipulations that ...more
Queen Sugar
by Natalie Baszile
4 stars
pp. 372

I finished Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile a week ago and I'm still trying to come to terms with my assessment. The back cover is filled with glowing testimonials from such noted authors as Ruth Ozeki, Karen Joy Fowler, Beth Hoffman and Lalita Tademy with words like "sweeping, beautifully wrought...heartfelt beautiful and heartfelt and highly, heart-breaking" Perhaps the difficulty with my assessment comes from th
Liza Wiemer
Queen Sugar is a lovely slow dance on a crowded dance floor. Natalie Baszile describes a life I knew absolutely nothing about: What it's like to be a sugarcane farmer. She hooked me in with the details and opened my eyes to a tough, powerful African American woman named Charley, who inherited the farm from her father. The mega-trials and tribulations Charley faces as a black woman, a woman, an outsider (she's from California and her farm is in Louisiana), the weather, and as a newbie farmer, are ...more
Sep 15, 2014 Dona rated it really liked it
What a wonderful debut novel from a talented author. This novel is one of new beginnings and closure. Charlotte "Charley" Bordelon inheits a sugar cane farm in rural Louisiana from her father, who left home many years before to make a life for himself in Los Angeles. Charley's inheritance comes at a time in her life when she is floundering and needs a change. Charley lost her husband four years ago and is now a single parent of their pre-teen daughter. Charley chafes at the way in which her moth ...more
Jan 25, 2015 Esil rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Thank you to the publisher and to Netgalley for an opportunity to read an advance copy of Queen Sugar. I would give this novel 3 1/2 stars. Baszille's first novel is set in Louisiana and tells the story of a young black woman -- Charley -- who grew up in California and moves to Louisiana after inheriting a sugar cane farm from her father. Her half brother -- who has a troubled past -- also moves back to Louisiana, and they all live with their grandmother Miss Honey and their respective only chil ...more
Maya B
Jul 24, 2016 Maya B rated it liked it
I liked the characters and I thought the author had a good concept for the story. I wish the characters were more complex. Its a plain story about everyday life, but I needed more. There was never a wow moment. I felt like the author puts the reader on a chase waiting for something grand to happen.
African Americans on the Move Book Club
Charley Bordelon was surprised to learn that she’d inherited 800 acres of sugarcane fields from her late beloved father. She, a native of Los Angeles, packed up and moved her and her young preteen daughter Micah to the Deep South to begin a new life. What began as bubbles of thrilling anxiety and a longing for much needed change came abruptly to a disappointing end when she was faced with a farm that had not been properly kept or managed as believed. Her faith would slowly be broken as she would ...more
Sep 14, 2016 Deloris rated it it was amazing
APB Perspective Review :

I simply loved this book and I learn a bunch of stuff about Sugar farming. I read this book because of the show Queen Sugar , but I was not surprised the book is nothing like the show . I can understand how this book could inspire a TV show it's so full and relatable. The characters are people we know in our every day lives, so when you meet them you feel that they're family ,as you enjoy about reading about their lives. Charlie is the champion we all want to be , and th
Aug 24, 2016 stacia rated it liked it
I read this to prepare for the Ava DuVernay adaptation, which I understand takes a lot of liberties with the storyline -- and I can see why. It isn't so much that not much happens in this book. Things happen, but the stakes are too low for me to fully invest as a reader. Every revelation fell flat for me. Why did Charley's dad buy a huge cane farm, cashing in all his other viable properties and leaving behind no assets? That reveal seems not to justify the purchase (especially given that he's le ...more
Nikayla Steinmetz
Wow! I don't even know where to begin complimenting this book! For starters this book was so beautifully written that I found myself reading passages over again just so I could let the beautiful images and descriptions appear in my mind again. The way Baszile described the fields and weather in Louisiana makes me want to pack my bags, rush to Louisiana, and set up shop right by the bayou. She really describes the culture and scenery in Louisiana in such detail that I don't have to go off on a se ...more
Sep 16, 2016 Shirley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sweet book

Thought I would read the book, since the same title is being shown on OWN tv. Definitely a different storyline, some character names the same but different. Main character is still Charley but the family dynamics is very different.
I'll admit Queen Sugar took a decent chunk of time to grab me. Natalie Baszile's writing style is very descriptive, meaning that I often found myself rereading the same paragraph to make sure I hadn't missed any important details. Though it took a while for me to adjust to it, it eventually made me grateful to the author for painting vivid pictures of the place where the bulk of the story takes place, a central piece to a book focused on the procurement of a farm.

The main protagonist, Charley,
Gino Williams
Aug 27, 2015 Gino Williams rated it really liked it
Coming from Mississippi, I slightly understand a thing or two about sugar cane. From that standpoint, the book was an informative read. Coming from a family that was not dysfunctional, I had a hard time embracing the grandmother enabling the wayward brother. And although the brother seemed written in for conflict, the kind of character he was in the story was not far off the mark from how a lot of conflicted family members are. It was evident that the main character and her mother were not on go ...more
Sharonda _Isadora
No stars...DNF.

I really wanted to like this book but couldn’t bring myself to finish it. I feel like the author missed out some key issues in Queen Sugar.

Now I know the book itself was going to be different from the TV show that was picked up by OWN and several things are vastly different here. Nova, the older sister from the show is not a character in the book. Charley and Ralph Angel are the only children of Ernest Bordelon. Blue, Ralph Angel’s son is in the book and Micah is a teenage girl.
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Natalie has a M.A. in Afro-American Studies from UCLA, and is a graduate of Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers where she was a Holden Minority Scholar. An early version of Queen Sugar won the Hurston Wright College Writer’s Award, was a co-runner up in the Faulkner Pirate’s Alley Novel-in-Progress competition, and excerpts were published in Cairn and ZYZZYVA. She has had residencies a ...more
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“It was like her father said: never make people glad twice-glad to see you come, and glad to see you go” 12 likes
“Every morning when I wake up and look in the mirror, I see a black face and I love it. Sure, I've been to Paris and grew up surfing, and yes, I speak like I'm in a commercial. But I'm just like the women you see walking on the side of the road with their laundry baskets and their Bibles. I'm just like the old men pedaling their rusty bicycles. I'm no different from the men who drive your tractors or the woman who probably raised you. I'm just like them, no better and no worse. I'm black, Remy, which means everything and nothing” 6 likes
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