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Sugar Land

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  43 ratings  ·  18 reviews
A southern fried novel about love, Lead Belly, and liberation that's been called a "ravishing debut" in a starred Kirkus Review and "writing at its finest" by the NY Journal of Books.

It's 1923 in Midland, Texas, and Miss Dara falls in love with her best friend―who also happens to be a girl. Terrified, Miss Dara takes a job at Imperial State Prison Farm for men. Once there,
Paperback, first, 334 pages
Published October 23rd 2018 by Red Hen Press
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Lark Benobi
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, november-2018
Early in this novel the teen-aged Dara kisses the first great love of her life, Rhodie, and in a burst of insight and joy she realizes she is a lesbian. The very next day Dara overhears her uncle, the town sheriff, laughing with another officer about how the two of them had cured four women of their ‘perversion’ by raping them the night before, and in second burst of insight Dara realizes she will never be safe in her home town, and runs away.

If this sort of abrupt, let’s-not-waste-any-time stor
Carmel Hanes
I really wanted to like this book, but had mixed reactions to it. I enjoyed the first half and would have given that part 4 stars. But somewhere towards the 50-60% point my interest began to wane, and I'd give the rest of the book two and a half to three stars. I've tried to figure out why.

I enjoyed getting to know young Miss Dara. I was touched and drawn into the angst of realizing you are a woman who loves another woman in a time when that was not only completely unacceptable, but dangerous. I
Stoner's debut story of a young woman trying to find her way in the world is both light and profound. Dara falls in love with her best friend, and the bliss she feels is like nothing ever before. Events occur which derail her future plans, so Dara regroups and tiptoes her way into a different kind of life. Sweet and serious, Sugar Land is a great coming-of-age story that looks at both the euphoria and the despair of first and all-consuming love. Fans of Fannie Flagg will be thrilled with Sugar L ...more
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sugar Land is a great Southern fiction debut! Reminiscent of Fannie Flagg, this story made me sad and made me laugh. I love the resilience of the main character, Dara, throughout all the ups and downs of her life. Tammy Lynne Stoner has written a solid debut novel! I can’t wait for her next book!
Nov 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure - the author is a very dear childhood friend. Being a supporter of friends and all things women entrepreneur, I bought the book and read it to be supportive. And I LOVED it. No, really...I absolutely loved it. If I didn't love it, I would never take the time to write a review. I sit here now with a feeling of contentment having just finished this sweet, beautiful story and a little sad that it's over. Tammy's writing is extraordinary. She creates a vivid and clear picture of each ...more
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked a lot of things about this book. I thought that the voice was done quite well, and just in general I think I’ve had a pull toward period stories lately. It’s a story about self-acceptance and sexuality, following the main character from her young adulthood in the 1920’s in South Texas through late middle age in the 1960’s, as she learns to be both independent and to come to understand and accept herself as a lesbian. I think one of the valuable things about taking on sexuality and things ...more
Elizabeth Marshea
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sugar Land is difficult to pin down as it spans years and follows a characters as she discovers the many iterations of herself. From fleeing forbidden love to finding friendship in prison to ultimately discovering that being true to yourself is what sets us all free, Nana Dara is a one of a kind character.

She is at times forceful and at other time hesitant, confident and insecure, reflecting the dualities in all our personalities. It's true she is a lesbian, but she is no token character, she's
Nov 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written. Sugar Land is the story of a Texas woman who attempts to sequester herself away from the world by going to work in a prison for men. It’s a heartbreaking start to a rich life of love and joy. There are so many great characters in this novel, and the setting is rich with historical detail and gritty Southern charm.
Dec 04, 2018 added it
DNF at page 32. The story synopsis sounded great, maybe if I had given it more time and reached the part where Dara evolved into (as one positive blurb put it) "a ballsy broad in a double-wide" I would have liked it as much as some of my GoodReads friends. But I was not in the mood for the cornpone of the first 32 pages, and even the promise of Leadbelly couldn't keep me going. I should beware comparisons to Fannie Flagg.
Jean Baxendale
Nov 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book... very thought provoking...
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: on-hoopla
Hilary Zaid
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Stoner is a brilliant writer. Her life of a Southern woman from the 20s through the 1970s is painful, moving, and, above all, funny. Netflix, Hulu and/or Amazon would be fools not to option the film rights to this warm, big-hearted, tender and humane story, whose language is gorgeous on the page and whose characters and drama cry out for the screen. Women with an affinity for lady friends will find this work an especially satisfying read.
Erin Cataldi
Dec 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
A southern coming of age story about learning to come to terms with life and what makes your heart ring true. Set in the twenties, a young woman named Dara escapes from Midland, Texas only to run straight into a prison. Dara works in the kitchen and tries to put her past and her great romance to bed. She fell hard for her best friend but is too concerned with what the consequences could be if anyone ever discovered her attraction to girls. Safely ensconced in a prison filled with men, Dara soon ...more
David Morgan
Dec 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sugar Land is the story of Discovery, rejection, fear, denial, acceptance and completion. The life long story of Nana Dora encompasses all of these feelings and then some. I thoroughly enjoyed this journey with its timely story of self Discovery. I can highly recommend this book to anyone questioning their lot in life and to those curious about other people's life experiences.
Dec 02, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
Full of hokey similes and cliches, yet the writing style was rather flat. Just couldn't get into it.
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it
I loved the first half of Stoner's Sugar Land but couldn't get over the blatant fatphobia.
SUSAN   *Nevertheless,she persisted*
Loved this book. Would recommend.
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Nov 07, 2018
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Oct 07, 2018
Daisy Mae
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Nov 28, 2018
Cindy Murphy
rated it it was amazing
Nov 28, 2018
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Dec 06, 2018
Andres Benjumea
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Nov 27, 2018
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Nov 26, 2018
Jazzy Mitchell
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Dec 05, 2018
Natalia Weissfeld
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Nov 25, 2018
Susan Gerstner
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Nov 29, 2018
Karena Stoner
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Jul 23, 2018
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Nov 13, 2018
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Nov 04, 2018
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Newest Literary F...: Sugar Land by Tammy Lynne Stoner 17 30 Nov 25, 2018 03:49PM  
Goodreads Librari...: 9781597096270 2 24 Jul 02, 2018 12:08PM  
tammy was born in Midland, Texas, where some of her debut novel SUGAR LAND (which the New York Journal of Books calls "writing at its finest") is set.

She's also the Publisher of Gertrude and wrangler of GERTIE, a queer book club.

Stemming from what her grandmother calls her "gypsy blood," tammy has lived in 16 cities in 3 countries, working as a gas station attendant, biscuit maker, medical experim
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“This is how it goes in life: sometimes you’re born with a cleft palette or rickets, like my bow-legged Granddaddy, or a touch short on brains, like my Great Aunt Cal who everyone called ‘Stool.’ Me? I’m a double hitter. In addition to being what folks call “large boned,” I came into this world with homosexual tendencies—though back then I thought of it only as my strange, strong affections for some female friends, having no such notion of “homosexual tendencies” as a thing, at least not in Midland, Texas.

Notions of this nature found footing in me eight months before I ran away to work in the kitchen at Sugarland Prison, when I got a job at the egg store. The egg store was all wood. Wood floors, wood ceiling beams, wood shelves—that rugged, knotty, reddish wood. The simple kind of wood they used to bury folks in before the floods, when rotting coffins popped from the ground like splinters and dead bodies dropped out in maggoty heaps.

The egg store smelled like wood, too, which I liked. That and just the tiniest hint of smoke from Bibby’s metal pork smoker two streets over. I swear he ran that thing day and night, crazy redneck. And that’s where I fell in love for the first time, there in the egg store that smelled like wood and smoked pig fat.”
“The thing my eyes settled on was the line in that letter that said: That this baby came from me has to be kept a secret.

A secret. I knew even then that secrets have a way of working themselves out of tight spots, of springing up somewhere else where the dirt is softer. Maybe since my secret didn’t see the light of day all those years ago, I passed it along to this child. I should have been honest and told people that once, back in 1923, I loved a girl who loved me back and it changed everything. I should have told her that, despite preferring the company of woman, I didn't live a false life with her Daddy—it was just like having hamburger when you want steak.

I should have said something.”
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