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(Sugar Lacey #1)

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  5,812 ratings  ·  532 reviews
"Strong and folksy storytelling... think Zora Neale Hurston... Sugar speaks of what is real." --The Dallas Morning News

From an exciting new voice in African-American contemporary fiction comes a novel Ebony praised for its "unforgettable images, unique characters, and moving story that keeps the pages turning until the end." The Chicago Defender calls Sugar "a literary exp
Paperback, 240 pages
Published January 2nd 2001 by Plume (first published February 1st 2000)
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Betty Read this book a second time for my bookclub. Had forgotten how much I loved this story. McFadden is an excellent heart so went out to "Su…moreRead this book a second time for my bookclub. Had forgotten how much I loved this story. McFadden is an excellent heart so went out to "Sugar". What a sad existence to live a life mostly filled with pain. My heart goes out to all women who make their living on their backs...there are reason so very compelling for such lifestyles. BTW, the cover of my book was lousy. The one above is more appropriate.(less)

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Oct 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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What a story! Poignant and raw, sweet and tender. Bernice McFadden is a brilliant writer who can tell a terrific story!

Sugar is the story of two broken but otherwise very different women and the healing friendship that transpires between them. Sugar, abandoned at birth and raised in a brothel, used and abused and full of pain, moves to a small town in Arkansas. Here she is confronted with hatred from the other women, all except from Pearl, a woman who is suffering her own kind of pain, that of
I just finished reading this book for the second time after ten years. So much respect is due to Bernice Mcfadden. She's a wonderful writer and storyteller. Her style is amazing. Her excellency in character analysis is outstanding. It was impossible not to fall in love with the characters or at least have an understanding of how or why they are the way that they are. I couldn't get over the language of the narration. So beautifully written. I definitely can't wait to read the sequel. This is a b ...more
This feels a little like a Toni Morrison or Zora Neale Hurston novel.
Set in Arkansas in a small town full of gossips and upstanding Christian do-gooders, the story focuses on the lives of Sugar Lacey, an itinerant prostitute who has just moved in to #10 Grove Street, and her new neighbor, the long-grieving Pearl Taylor whose daughter was horribly murdered 15 years prior.

The town hates Sugar, of course, and they look to Pearl to feed them salacious news of the whore next door. What happens, inste
Shonell Bacon
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
If you haven't read this, then SHAME ON YOU...for real.
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: yes!!
I think this might just be a new favorite of mines.

Sugar, was a fantastic novel. It was a great novel. I enjoyed the friendship dynamic btw Sugar and Pearl. And the underlining story behind what I felt that made their friendship even stronger, spoilers and all. I'm glad that somethings, that went with that underlining story did not happen, even though some characters wanted it to happen. ( I know that sounds crazy, but I'm trying to keep it spoiler free) I was actually jealous of the friendship
Suzanne (Chick with Books) Yester
I didn't know what to expect from Sugar as I read the opening scene of a horrendous murder of a young black girl named Jude and the devastated mother she left behind named Pearl. The year was 1940, the place was a southern black town, and it was the era of segregation...

"No one cared except the people who carried the same skin color"

Bernice McFadden made me feel the anguish of a mother who lost her child; the injustice of the times as it was known nothing was going to be done about it... And the
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
One of the more luxurious privileges & possibilities our humanity allow us is the act of reinvention. We have the ability to create our own realities! To have curiosity meet possibility so that we can be shaped & reshaped time & time again.

This a privilege, and a luxurious one, because sometimes life resists our efforts to reinvent & create our own reality. VERY HEAVILY, in fact. Once you live a certain lifestyle is can seem IMPOSSIBLE to shake the labels that people force upon you. No matter wh
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
More Sugar, Please

Okay, so I’ve heard about this book, heard about this book and heard about this book. Haven’t run into a single person who read it and didn’t love it. But this is me we’re talking about so that doesn’t mean anything to me. I had read a previous title by Bernice McFadden and it didn’t do anything for me. I tried her alter ego, Geneva Holiday, and wasn’t moved. It wasn’t until a dear friend who is also a bookseller actually put the book in my hand and told me to take it and read
Cheryl James
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Sugar "I wanna say sorry for the things I did and the things I didn't do"

This is a great Southern Read. I loved the story and I truly connected with the character's during their happiness and their sadness. This is a story of love, hate, forgiveness and all in between. I love how the author wrote the story with such meaning and great detail. I felt like a part of the family. The book ended on a sad note for Pearl and Joe, but a happy note for Sugar. She is on her way to recovery and in search of
J Beckett
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Title: Sugar: A Novel

Author: Bernice L. McFadden:

Hardcover: 240 pages

Publisher: Dutton Adult (January 10, 2000)

Bernice McFadden's first novel, Sugar, encapsulates the elements that exemplify the making of a classic. This is not to say that it was perfect, for that would be pretentious on my part, but it was arguably a guaranteed page turner that you hoped would last just a little while longer. As a debut, Sugar did not lack any of the many elements we have come to know and love about McFadden's
Jan 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
Pearl has had her heart ripped out after the murder of her daughter; Sugar has had her life ripped apart by choices made for her by others. Neither knows, until Sugar moves next door to Pearl, what life has in store for them both.

In my quest to find the alternative to “The Help” I’m trying to immerse myself in African-American authors, who’s points of view lend more authenticity and credibility to the stories of African-American characters. I hit gold with Bernice L. McFadden’s, Sugar.

Set in the
Nov 01, 2007 rated it really liked it
Totally Spellbinding

"Sugar" was one of the best novels I've read in a long time! I applaud the talents of the writer because as a debut novel, she was able to capture the attention of the reader and maintain it throughout. I remember thinking that this was going to be a slow read, however, I found myself enjoying the fact that she didn't reveal too much, too soon. I enjoyed the characters in "Sugar". This book will have you feeling a range of emotions from beginning to end, it was an incredible
Hot dang! This book was masterfully written and the buildup of the story was perfectly written. I’m so excited to know what happens next in the life of Sugar. After reading this book, I now have an answer to that bothersome question that people always ask, which is "what character would you like to sit down and have a chat with?,” it’s Sugar Lacey for sure! I'd high recommend this book! #RUNDontWalk
Mar 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
16 years later...still 5 stars! I love this book.
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In the spring of 1940, “The murder had white man written all over it. But no one would say it above a whisper. It was 1940. It was Bigelow, Arkansas. It was a black child. Need anymore be said”?

Sugar is a story that shows how two women cross paths at harsh times in their lives, and how like a magnet, nothing could disconnect them for long. In the spring of 1955, the typical Black woman in this time is everything that Sugar is not. A Black woman is a mother with no less than 4 kids who works all
Alretha Thomas
Sep 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I finished reading Bernice L. McFadden’s Sugar this morning at the gym. I have to confess that I did happen to see a review that mentioned something about the ending not being a very happy one, so I braced myself as I approached the last chapter. Happy ending or no happy ending, Sugar was as sweet a read as the title…bittersweet in places, but sweet just the same. I not only fell in love with Bernice’s writing style, but I also found a deep place in my heart for the two main women in the novel— ...more
Rick Slane
Adult novel takes place in central Arkansas 1955 deals with prostitution and race.
Leslie Reese
Oct 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First of all, Sugar Lacey's story is full of hurt. The gut-punches and tangle of relationships in this novel nearly took off the top of my head, but Bernice L. McFadden wrote this book with great love for her characters; delivering the story in rich, affectionate, tangible imagery and crackling detail. ...more
Bonita Anthony
Apr 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a spellbinding and compelling book. The book started slowly. Reading the first 50 pages, you are fooled into thinking that you have figured out the mystery and that you will be bored for the next 150 pages. However, the pace picks up, the story begins to unfold, and you feel like you are watching a movie on Lifetime. Reading this in one sitting is easy as the parallels of people’s lives mesmorize you. We have all lived through some kind of hardship, pain, rejection, and abuse. Women, es ...more
Not Now...Mommy's Reading
McFadden's style reminds me a lot of J. California Cooper, who IMHO is THE BEST African-American author I've ever had the pleasure of reading.
I was half-way through "Sugar" before I found out there was a sequel to the story, "This Bitter Earth". I promptly ordered the sequel and look forward to adding the rest of McFadden's titles to my library.
The characters were so real - it seemed as if they were people I actually grew up around...or with. The story drew you in from the beginning and held y
Sep 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Loved it! My second book by this author. Can't wait to read part 2. Sugar was abandoned by her mother at a young age and never knew her father. During her formative years, she saw and heard a lot of things that were a bit much for a youngster. She grew up not really feeling loved. At the age of 15 she left town in search of becoming a star and a woman. See Sugar through her journey in life. Not all people are bad or want something from you.
Renée | Book Girl Magic
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was my first Bernice L. McFadden read and it was EVERYTHING! I loved the relationship between Pearl and Sugar. An unlikely pairing of two women who needed each other more than they knew. Pearl filling the void of her deceased daughter and Sugar filling the void of her mother, who abandoned her. It's a beautifully written friendship in which they teach each other so much.

You can catch the replay of the group discussion here:
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
Such a great story. I was reading it the same time that I was reading Sula and there were some subtle similarities. Southern women, excellent familiar dialogue, but this one w/o the magical realism that Toni Morrison is known for. This was just a great story. Not a single sentence seemed wasted. Loved it!
Aug 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: ANYONE
This was one of the best books I've ever read. I love this author. She never disappoints.
Jul 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-literature
Bernice L. McFadden's Sugar is a novel about finding your place in the world and in the family you create for yourself. It takes place in 1955 Arkansas, when Sugar, a vivacious and unapologetic sex worker, moves to the small, Christian town of Bigelow. Her next door neighbor, Pearl, is drawn to her, partly because Sugar resembles her teenage daughter who was brutally murdered 15 years ago.

I was amazed at the characterization McFadden was able to achieve in such a short, quick-moving book. While
Brittany J. (BNJreads)
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book chewed me up and spit me out. I was not prepared for the way each character was connected. Sugar and Pearl and Joe....ohhhh man, and Lappy someone come shake me!

Now onto This Bitter Earth!

Jan 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
I had a hard time getting into this book in the beginning. I think I will blame it all on reader's burn out. All 100% of it. Because once I got into the book I jammed right though it. The story takes place in the Spring of 1940 small town Bigelow, Arkansas and opens with the gruesome murder of a 15 year old girl. I always have a hard time with gruesome and good writing. There are so many great writers out there telling some detailed violent, image burning stories that make you cringe as you read ...more
Selena Haskins
Sep 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is my first time reading a book by Bernice McFadden, and she just may have found another fan of her work.

Sugar Lacey, a "personal" professional with men, comes to the town of Bigelow, Arkansas. A mysterious woman that no one knows much about, except she likes to sit naked in front of her window, sparking curiosity amongst the town's people. Pearl and Joe, Sugar's neighbors, who suffered a lost, have troubles and mysterious secrets of their own.

When Pearl and Sugar become friends, layers of
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I finished reading this book today and I know that its a book that will be a "go-to" book that I will re-read in my collection. I was drawn in from the character development in this book. The way that you see the growth spiritually and mentally from the two main characters in this book is really touching. I found myself connected to Sugar and Pearl (2 main characters) within the first couple chapters. The way that Bernice McFadden writes is nothing less than spectacular; I was drawn to the diale ...more
May 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing story! I have owned this book since 2001, but due to my busy schedule while I was in college I was never able to read this book. Last week I found it on my book shelf, discovered that I had a signed copy by the author, and decided to finally read it. I was definately not disappointed. This is a well written novel that tells the story of a woman who walks into the town of Bigelow, forever changing the lives of the citizens. This novel takes the reader on a journey through a life o ...more
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The WITTY Book Cl...: *** #25: Sugar by Bernice L McFadden*** 9 20 May 10, 2020 05:23PM  
Sugar is considered to be a "whore" 1 10 Mar 14, 2017 12:37PM  
The end 3 32 May 24, 2015 02:12PM  
Black Coffee: September BB: Sugar 46 27 Oct 04, 2014 08:45AM  
Mocha Girls Read: Book of the Month: Sugar 15 113 Mar 07, 2013 03:23PM  

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BERNICE L. McFADDEN is the author of ten critically acclaimed novels including Praise Song for the Butterflies (Long listed for the 2019 Women's Prize in Fiction ) The Book of Harlan (winner of a 2017 American Book Award and the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Fiction) Sugar, Loving Donovan, Nowhere Is a Place, The Warmest December, Gathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors’ C ...more

Other books in the series

Sugar Lacey (2 books)
  • This Bitter Earth (Sugar Lacey, #2)

News & Interviews

Ashley Poston made her name with Once Upon a Con, a contemporary series set in the world of fandom, and her two-part space opera, Heart of...
45 likes · 6 comments
“ 'Sugar, aint you ever had no good time?' she said with a bit of sadness in her voice.
'What you mean?' Sugar said,...
'Seems to me that I ain't never see you look up from whatever you were doing and just smile.'
'Just smile? Smile at what? At who?'
'Smile into the air, girl!' she said and waved her arm through the better start, 'cause time is running and a life without good times ain't a life worth having.”
“When things were bad, time had a habit of taking its time to pass, making sure you experienced every painful moment. When things were good and contentment abundant, time moved like the wind, hurrying precious moments along and forcing things that normally require nurturing to grow and forge quickly.” 2 likes
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