Cover image for Sugar / Jewell Parker Rhodes.
Sugar / Jewell Parker Rhodes.
Publication Information:
New York, New York : Scholastic, [2015]

Physical Description:
272 pages : illustrations ; 20 cm


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
RHO Paperback Junior Paperback Fiction
RHO Paperback Junior Paperback Fiction

On Order



From Jewell Parker Rhodes, the author of Towers Falling and Ninth Ward (a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and a Today show Al's Book Club for Kids pick) comes a tale of a strong, spirited young girl who rises beyond her circumstances and inspires others to work toward a brighter future.
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.

Author Notes

Jewell Parker Rhodes is an award-winning author. Her books include Voodoo Dreams, Magic City, Douglass' Women, Season, Moon, Hurricane, and the children's book, Ninth Ward. She is also the author of the writing guides Free Within Ourselves: Fiction Lessons for Black Authors and The African American Guide to Writing and Publishing Nonfiction.

Her work has been published in Germany, Italy, Canada, Turkey, and the United Kingdom and reproduced in audio and for NPR's "Selected Shorts." Rhodes honors include: the American Book Award, the National Endowment of the Arts Award in Fiction, the Black Caucus of the American Library Award for Literary Excellence, the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for Outstanding Writing, and two Arizona Book Awards.

Rhodes is the Virginia G. Piper Chair in Creative Writing and Artistic Director of Piper Global Engagement at Arizona State University.

(Bowker Author Biography) Jewell Parker Rhodes is a professor of creative writing and American literature at Arizona State University. She lives in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Hall, author of the self-published Follow Your Bliss series for adults, presents the story of 17-year-old Sugar Legowski-Garcia, whose abusive home life, compulsive eating, and lack of self-esteem threaten to bury her. Sugar and her family all suffer from obesity. They inhabit a dilapidated house in a "forgotten corner of New Hampshire" where Sugar's bedridden mother, who weighs more than 500 pounds, treats Sugar like a servant, and Sugar's brother, Skunk, is cruel and physically abusive. Taunted at school as much as she is at home, Sugar is consumed by shame and despair until a boy named Even, who has his own family problems, comes to town. Even provides needed distractions, adventures, and encouragement until tragedy strikes, pushing the story into melodrama. While the dialogue can be schmaltzy and the messaging heavy-handed ("We're both stuck, with nowhere to go, and no way to get there"), Sugar's character has depth, and her unhappiness and determination to conquer it are realistically portrayed. Readers will sympathize with Sugar and understand her struggle to reach her full potential. Ages 13-up. (June) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

Sugar, a ten-year-old African American girl in Reconstruction Louisiana, hates everything about sugar: "Sugar bites a hundred times, breaking skin and making you bleed...Sugar calls -- all kinds of bugs, crawling, inching, flying...I hate, hate, hate sugar." The work on a sugarcane plantation is brutal, and Sugar's mother died two years ago. The community of cane workers, all former slaves, is equal parts loving and disapproving of Sugar's high spirits, but she's increasingly lonely as the other families move away for a better life in the North. When the plantation owner's son, Billy, starts making friendly overtures, Sugar is ready to accept, though they both know they aren't supposed to play together. Her outgoing nature helps her reach out to the new group of Chinese sugarcane workers, and her friendship with the youngest of them enlarges her view of the world and its possibilities. Rhodes vividly depicts Sugar's experiences and sensations, from the razor-sharp leaves of the cane field to the sights and smells of the Mississippi River, using short, direct, and evocative sentences. The novel's plot may be a little predictable, but with her endearing feistiness, realistically shifting moods, and capacity for friendship, Sugar is an engaging and memorable character. susan dove lempke (c) Copyright 2013. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.