Sugar Run

Algonquin. Jan. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9781616206215. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616208882. F
OrangeReviewStarDEBUT When Jodi McCarty leaves prison at 35 after serving 18 years of a life sentence for manslaughter, she doesn't head immediately to the worn-out Appalachian town that no longer feels like home. She heads to Chaunceloraine, GA, to keep a longtime promise. Along the way, she meets pill-popping, alcohol-swilling Miranda, wife of has-been musician Lee Golden, who's keeping wild-girl Miranda from their three sons. Miranda and Jodi get involved immediately and passionately, but before Miranda there was sharp-edged Paula, for whom Jodi is keeping that promise, a tough woman haunting this story like a dark ghost. The interlocked and heartbreaking stories of Jodi and Miranda and Lee and Paula and Paula's simple, badly used brother unfold in language that is just plain grittily gorgeous. These are stories of violence and passion and squashed hope—at one point, Jodi says, "she'd laid the old pattern over her new life like the fragile tissue-paper outlines Effie had used to cut dresses"—and you will feel every word.
VERDICT A highly recommended debut.—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

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