About two or so years ago I picked up Garden Spells and was completely entranced by Sarah Addison Allen’s writing. While I’m not a huge fan of magical realism, I’m good with a small, semi-believable bit and I think that’s what she does so well. I also introduced a co-worker to her books, and thanks to that same co-worker, I got to read The Sugar Queen which was the last of Allen’s books I needed to finish.
Josey Cirrini is the daughter of the man who made the small North Carolina town where she lives what it is today thanks to his Bald Slop Ski Resort. Josey lives a boring life caring for her mother’s every whim and constantly being put down even when she does things right. When Della Lee Baker, a woman from town, shows up one morning in her house, her life changes forever and Josey, for the first time in her life, is starting to experience life, friendship, love, and happiness.
Poor Josey spends her days trying to make up for being an awful child but her mother keeps putting her down as if she were the same rude, ill-mannered child of ten. Della Lee, someone Josey knew about from town but never really met, helps her see that life has much more to offer than a closet full of candy and cookies. With a little help from Della Lee, Josey meets Chloe Finley and for the first time in her life, has an actual friend. It’s a happy and sad moment because up till this point, Josey did nothing but cater to her mother’s needs and comfort herself with snacks she keeps hidden in her closet. The whole world begins to open up and she realizes how much she’s missed. She wants to travel, see the world, and experience new things. Really, the woman needs an adventure.
I feel I should say something about the ending here because it did bother me slightly. While I don’t mind a vague ending, as long as the main story is somewhat wrapped up, this one felt rushed and one story line ignored all together. Everything doesn’t need to be wrapped up nice and neat for me but I prefer to feel like I’m not being pushed through a door and told not to worry about any of the things I’m seeing on the way. I kind of felt that way about the ending of The Sugar Queen. I did enjoy the book but it did feel rushed to the point where I was wondering why she was keeping one particular storyline hidden.
Now that I’ve read all of Allen’s books, I have to say Garden Spells is still my favorite. The Sugar Queen is a happy story, short and sweet, with moments of reality to ground it. I was looking for this type of read when this book just happened to come my way. It was a perfect little read for me — comforting, funny with a bit of a happy ending. Sometime I need that in my reading.
Thanks to my co-worker who graciously loaned me this book. I hope you enjoy it.
The Sugar Queen
By Sarah Addison Allen