Today I have a review of Sugar Land by Tammy Lynne Stoner. Sugar Land is available now, and my friends who are fans of southern fiction and historical fiction should definitely take note! Thank you to Kathleen Carter Communications and the author for the invitation to review this gritty beauty!
Sugar Land has received a starred review from Kirkus, and I can definitely understand why. I instantly fell right into Miss Dara’s story and Stoner’s storytelling.
In 1920s Texas, Miss Dara has fallen in love with her best friend. This terrifies her, so she seeks a job at the Imperial State Prison for men. There she meets Lead Belly, who later becomes a star blues singer. They form a true friendship, and he makes her promise to live her best, true life. Then, he sings his way out of prison.
Sugar Land reminded me of what’s best about a Fannie Flagg novel. There’s depth, wit, and so much charm. My feelings ran the gamut from laughter to sadness.
Dara is everything you want in your main character. She is authentic, relatable, and fallible with a heart of gold. Dara marries, becomes a widow, and gets a second chance at love. This is her story. And it’s a big one, and it’s chock-full of clever humor.
Tammy Lynne Stoner captures the beauty and the gritty day-to-day of Dara’s life and search for meaning. My favorite aspect of the story other than Dara? The sparse writing.
Overall, Sugar Land is a precisely-told, gritty, redeeming story about second chances filled with hope and inspiration, if you look for it.
I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.
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, she befriends inmate and soon-to-be legendary blues singer Lead Belly, who sings his way out (true story)―but only after he makes her promise to free herself from her own prison. SUGAR LAND is a triumphant novel that manages to be funny and endearing even as it tangles with race, class, and the fate of misfits.
“A powerful paperback that doesn’t pull any emotional punches, Sugar Land is a debut you don’t want to miss.” – Bustle
“With a lively sense of humor and a great sense of place, tammy lynne stoner’s debut is a Southern novel from a voice that rings true … with keen insight into race, class, gender identity and social norms, Sugar Land is the story of a woman learning to come home to herself.” – BookPage
“Stoner creates a captivating story for the ages—a young, southern girl in the 1920s who becomes a ballsy broad in a double-wide…This heartbreaking and hysterical book inspires us with a brave and unusual life.”
—Jillian Lauren, New York Times bestselling author of Some Girls: My Life in a Harem and Everything You Ever Wanted
Have you read Sugar Land, or is it on your TBR? Happy Reading! ~ Jennifer THR