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Drinking from a Bitter Cup

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  361 ratings  ·  74 reviews
“1978. The year I turned ten and the year my mama killed herself. She was thirty-five, and dying is the last thing that should have been on her mind.”

After the death of her mother, Sylvia Butler’s father, a man she knows only from an old photo, takes her from Louisville, Kentucky to Ozark, Alabama to live with his family. But his wife resents everything about this intruder
Paperback, 298 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by WiDo Publishing (first published December 17th 2013)
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4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  361 ratings  ·  74 reviews

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Cheryl James
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Feeling much sadness and madness after reading this book. A mother who loved her daughter but was so broken inside she kills herself. A father who did not know the daughter existed took her in and loved her back to some normalcy only to die his self. Now she is left with the wicked step mother and the abusive uncle. The uncle be friends her and then rapes and mentally abuses her and breaks her young spirit from the ages of 11 to 14. Too scared to tell anyone she lives in fear and much physical p ...more
Jan 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the first book in a long time to take me through the range of emotions I felt. I laughed and cried so much reading Drinking from a Bitter Cup. Sylvia truly was a very strong young lady. I was filled with so much hope for her by the end of the book.
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it

This is a story that tugs at your heart. Sylvia went through so much and didn't completely break. Her trials made her strong. Emotional book. Great book.
Delora Dennis
Jan 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Delora by: Author Marketing Club
Wow! What a fabulous story. It's been a long time since I've come across a "can't-put-it-down" book.

I instantly fell in love with Sylvia, and I wanted to reach into the pages of the book and bring her home with me. Her sweetness, strength and resilience in the face of soul-crushing devastation, which no child should ever have to go through, was heart-breaking but inspiring.

Ms. Jackson-Brown did a wonderful job developing the story with a great cast of supporting characters, none of which, ever h
Melissa Hostetter
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This novel kept me on an emotional roller coaster. I laughed, I cried. I cried a lot. The hardships that Sylvia faced in this story are things nobody should ever have to face. But she gives hope to anyone who has. Things get better. Don't let life get you down. Keep on living.

This book has helped me in a time of emotions. I connected on too many levels with this fictional character and I can only hope to continue my life with half as much courage and hope that she demonstrates in the end.

Powerful, but I'm not sure I liked the message or the ending. Heck, I'm not really sure I liked the book. There are a lot of themes explored here about families and family dynamics,(view spoiler) etc. All through the eyes of a little girl. It is well written and you really do become attached to Sylvie. She was indeed drinking from a horri ...more
Karen George
Jan 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Ms. Jackson-Brown's debut novel, Drinking From a Bitter Cup, pulled me in with the first sentences: "1978. The year I turned ten and the year my mama killed herself." And, as only happens with the best books, I couldn't stop reading and yet I didn't want the novel to end. The characters are complex and unforgettable, the story hauntingly told from the first person point-of-view of Sylvia Butler, beginning at the age of 10, filled with yearning, kindness, and reverence.
Before her mother, Rose,
Emotional Read

This book grabbed me from the beginning. I felt so many emotions with this book. I wanted to laugh, cry, and scream with anger with each turn of the page. Sylvia really drank from a bitter cup and it was amazing to read her heart wrenching story. I'm glad I decided to read this book. I was not disappointed at all.
Dec 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Brutality forged into song.

More -
I was immediately hooked. Sylvia was so complex and she described her world so vividly that a couple of times I had to check whether the author had based this book on her life. I really felt like I was seeing the world through a 10 year old's eyes. Sylvia's description of her sexual abuse was poignant; her confusion pulled at me.
I feel like the book kind of ended in limbo though. I wish we could see what happened next with the characters. I kept waiting for Mother Viv's redemption, but I guess
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: writers-jam, fiction
Angela Jackson-Brown's novel Drinking from a Bitter Cup is a haunting, desolate story of a young child abandoned in the world. At every page, I wanted to stop reading. But her prose was so effortlessly elegant that I couldn't. (My wife read the book in one sitting as well.)

The story follows Sylvia Butler, a young African-American child who is being raised by her mother. Her mom has mental health issues, which causes her daughter to be ostracized socially. When the mother passes away, her fath
Cheryl James
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
A very good story of a young girl's pain, sorrow and forgiveness.
Oct 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Just wait until you meet 15 year old Sylvia Butler, the courageous, resourceful, gritty heroine of this beautifully wrought debut novel. A character-driven story rendered with compassion and grace, this novel will remind you why you love to read. Young Sylvia is in need of a family. Along the way, she discovers the steely core inside herself, despite the obstacles life pelts her with. Though the story comes to us through Sylvia’s adolescent and childhood eyes, this is an adult novel, a clear-eye ...more
--karen Green-berry

I've had this book in my kindle for a couple of years and I'm so glad I finally decided to read it. It tells the heartbreaking yet heartwarming story of Sylvia Butler. It's a story of love, hate, depravity, hope and perseverance.

Sylvia has endured so much in her young life. Her mother's mental health issues and eventual suicide. Moving to live with a father she didn't know and all she encountered there. She endured so much sadness and brutality in her short life but she rose above it a
Mona Grant-Holmes
Feb 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Sylvia Butler is an only child. The most important person in Sylvia's life is her mother, Rose; closely followed by her grandmotherly neighbor, Miss Cora; and her mothers best friend, Uncle Ray. Rose is unlike any of the mothers of Sylvia's classmates. She is beautiful, she sings beautifully, she paints the walls of their home in bright vibrant colors, she makes their clothes, she makes Sylvia laugh, and she makes Sylvia feel loved. Sylvia is smart, sweet, shy, and loves to read. Rose dies when ...more
Erin Cataldi
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015
Like a punch to the gut, this book makes you see red. It's gripping, depressing, uplifting, and compelling all in one go. Ten year old Sylvia is sent to live with her father, whom she's never met, after her mother tragically takes her own life. Faced with hardship after hardship Sylvia is a model child, student, and friend, but inside she is struggling to make peace with what is going on in her life. Set in Alabama during the late 70s/early 80s, this novel will make readers question their willpo ...more
Elaine Drennon
Jul 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: southern-fiction
Angela Jackson-Brown not only captures the VOICE of a broken, abused coming-of-age little girl of the 70s, but she captures the EMOTIONS--the pain, the confusion, the misplaced loyalty, the embarrassment, the need to hold on even when things feel wrong. As much as we might not want to, this is a book we should give to our daughters and granddaughters. The fact that this sad story COULD happen to anyone is the reason that all women should read and embrace this book. It could happen to any little ...more
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, owned, fiction
Angela Jackson-Brown has written an Outstanding book of love, hope, pain, fear, acceptance, sadness and absolution. Set in the 1970's & 80's of the South, Sylvia always seemed to have a more mature grace at handling the trials & tribulations that came her way. She never experienced happiness without sadness or love without pain in her shattered life. I cried, screamed, rejoiced and held my breath every step of the way, enthralled at her fortitude and broken in her pain. I cannot recommen ...more
C.R. Asay
Oct 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
What an emotional roller coaster! I started it last night before bed and haven't been able to put it down all day. There's a pile of tissues beside me and I have that tight, hiccupy feeling in my throat. I felt a connection to the MC Sylvia from the first paragraph. The writing and characterization is flawless and beautiful. I gave it 4 stars only because it deals with some very tough issues that make it hard to read. This book is a treasure.
Tina Griep
Apr 27, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! The characters are well defined. This novel grabs your attention from the start and will not let you go. I began to read it one Saturday morning and 4 hours later completed the book. You end up rooting for the heroine and using up a box of tissues. I highly recommend this book and author and look forward to more of Angela Jackson-Brown's works.
Holly Ferguson
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story, rather abrupt ending.

I loved this story. I cried at least twice. However I felt like this incredible build up of heartbreak, love, loss and relationships ended really abruptly, almost as if the author realized her deadline was there and she just needed to end the book.
Sarah Raymer
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Angela Jackson-Brown is triumphant with her debut novel! I loved every word! Sylvia is a hard heroine not to love and have your heart ripped out with the tragic events that unfold for her only to become a truly remarkable human being herself. After reading this extraordinary book, I can't wait to see what Angela has next for us all to enjoy! If you haven't read it, YOU SHOULD!
sue ann vanderpool
A Touching Coming-of-Age Story

Set in the South during the '60s and '70s the story unfolds as a realistic portrayal of the times. This could well be about my.friends or me. It is the good bad and ugly of life then. It touches my heart.
Feb 02, 2014 rated it liked it
This book of sexual abuse was gripping because it touched the true emotions of a young girl. I would not have read the book if I had known it was about abuse but once that was revealed, I finished the book as I needed a survivor to emerge and not a victim. Very sad book.
Feb 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
This was an emotional journey. I cried and wanted to hurt some of the characters. The story had so many ups and downs. My heart went out to Sylvia. It was so hard to imagine the things she went through at such a young age.
Jennifer Pelfrey
Feb 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful book! I couldn't put it down! I had so many emotions while reading it. I would laugh, cry, get angry, and I would want to reach in and pull Sylvie into my arms.
One of the best books I've read in awhile in this category.
I cannot wait to read her next book!
Feb 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This reminded me of the many books Oprah made popular several years ago with her recommendations on her book list. No surprises here really. A young girl faces terrible tragedy yet somehow comes out stronger young woman. I thought it was well written and compelling enough that it was a quick read.
Lyndsey Wilson
Mar 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lyn-s-bookshelf
I really enjoyed this book!! Great read!!
Apr 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Painful, joyous, and life-affirming, this soft novel takes you into a world of reality as it can only be seen by an adolescent. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Lizzie Winns
Jan 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tear-jerker
This was an awesome book, I couldn't put it down, I wanted to save Sylvia myself. I felt her pain. My emotions where all over the place in this book. Sad it had to end, wish there was a part 2.
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Angela Jackson-Brown is an English Professor at Ball State University in Muncie, IN. She graduated from Troy University in Troy, AL (B.S. in Business Administration); Auburn University in Auburn, AL (M.A. in English); and Spalding University in Louisville, KY (MFA in Creative Writing). Her work has appeared in literary journals, such as: Pet Milk, Uptown Mosaic Magazine, New Southerner Literary Ma ...more
“a scholarship somewhere huge, and then a few years from now you’ll get an academic scholarship to the same school and you can study medicine just like you always wanted to do.” Then I would jump in, my voice brimming with excitement. “And then you’ll get drafted to the NBA and I’ll become a doctor and our life will be fantastic.” “We” 0 likes
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