Author: Jewell Parker Rhodes
Publication: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Little Brown & Co.
Ten-year-old Sugar lives on the River Road sugar plantation along the banks of the Mississippi. Slavery is over, but laboring in the fields all day doesn't make her feel very free. Thankfully, Sugar has a knack for finding her own fun, especially when she joins forces with forbidden friend Billy, the white plantation owner's son.
Sugar has always yearned to learn more about the world, and she sees her chance when Chinese workers are brought in to help harvest the cane. The older River Road folks feel threatened, but Sugar is fascinated. As she befriends young Beau and elder Master Liu, they introduce her to the traditions of their culture, and she, in turn, shares the ways of plantation life. Sugar soon realizes that she must be the one to bridge the cultural gap and bring the community together. Here is a story of unlikely friendships and how they can change our lives forever.
From Jewell Parker Rhodes, the author of Ninth Ward (a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and a Today show Al's Book Club for Kids pick), here's another tale of a strong, spirited young girl who rises beyond her circumstances and inspires others to work toward a brighter future.
I really liked this story; Sugar is a great character, so full of life and curiosity. What's great about this book is how she is able to interact with each race and they learn through her how to take that step towards a different way of living. The writing is good and the story moves along smoothly. Sugar's voice provides a nice tone to the story and gives a unique perspective into the mindset of former slaves. Overall, a great book about change and friendship that I would recommend to middle graders.