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Sugar Town Queens

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From LA Times Book Prize Award Winner and Edgar Award Nominee Malla Nunn comes a stunning portrait of a family divided and the bonds that knit our communities. When Amandla wakes up on her fifteenth birthday she knows it's going to be one of her mother's difficult days. Her mother has had another vision. If Amandla wears a blue sheet her mother has loosely stitched as a dre From LA Times Book Prize Award Winner and Edgar Award Nominee Malla Nunn comes a stunning portrait of a family divided and the bonds that knit our communities. When Amandla wakes up on her fifteenth birthday she knows it's going to be one of her mother's difficult days. Her mother has had another vision. If Amandla wears a blue sheet her mother has loosely stitched as a dress and styles her normally braided hair in a halo around her head, Amandla's father will come home. Amandla's mother, Annalisa, always speaks of her father as if he was the prince of a fairytale, but in truth he's been gone since before Amandla was born and even Annalisa's memory of him is hazy. In fact many of Annalisa's memories from before Amandla was born are hazy. It's just one of the many reasons people in Sugar Town give Annalisa and Amandla strange looks--that and the fact her mother is white and Amandla is brown. But when Amandla finds a mysterious address in the bottom of her mother's handbag along with a large amount of cash, she decides it's finally time to get answers about her mother's life. But what she discovers will change the shape and size of her family forever.


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From LA Times Book Prize Award Winner and Edgar Award Nominee Malla Nunn comes a stunning portrait of a family divided and the bonds that knit our communities. When Amandla wakes up on her fifteenth birthday she knows it's going to be one of her mother's difficult days. Her mother has had another vision. If Amandla wears a blue sheet her mother has loosely stitched as a dre From LA Times Book Prize Award Winner and Edgar Award Nominee Malla Nunn comes a stunning portrait of a family divided and the bonds that knit our communities. When Amandla wakes up on her fifteenth birthday she knows it's going to be one of her mother's difficult days. Her mother has had another vision. If Amandla wears a blue sheet her mother has loosely stitched as a dress and styles her normally braided hair in a halo around her head, Amandla's father will come home. Amandla's mother, Annalisa, always speaks of her father as if he was the prince of a fairytale, but in truth he's been gone since before Amandla was born and even Annalisa's memory of him is hazy. In fact many of Annalisa's memories from before Amandla was born are hazy. It's just one of the many reasons people in Sugar Town give Annalisa and Amandla strange looks--that and the fact her mother is white and Amandla is brown. But when Amandla finds a mysterious address in the bottom of her mother's handbag along with a large amount of cash, she decides it's finally time to get answers about her mother's life. But what she discovers will change the shape and size of her family forever.

30 review for Sugar Town Queens

  1. 5 out of 5

    C.G. Drews

    Talk about an absolutely amazing read! Sugar Town Queens is the kind of story that's easy to fall in love with and hard to put down. It has such complex and fiercely loveable characters -- which is what I crave in a good book. And if you're looking for complicated messy family drama, with ugly secrets hidden, and regrets and love and tragic backstory all tumbling out: THIS is the book for you. The story follows Amandla who lives in a makeshift town/slum called Sugar Town in South Africa. Her moth Talk about an absolutely amazing read! Sugar Town Queens is the kind of story that's easy to fall in love with and hard to put down. It has such complex and fiercely loveable characters -- which is what I crave in a good book. And if you're looking for complicated messy family drama, with ugly secrets hidden, and regrets and love and tragic backstory all tumbling out: THIS is the book for you. The story follows Amandla who lives in a makeshift town/slum called Sugar Town in South Africa. Her mother has a mental illness that Amandla has to manage, even though she's only 15 and just trying to survive school and get by in their tiny one-room home. Also her mother is white and Amandla is brown (her Black father a mystery in her life) and Amandla is often ostracized at school for not being "Black enough" OR "white enough". But life gets a whole lot more complicated when Amandla learns the truth: her mother is the disinherited daughter of an extremely rich and powerful white family, the Bollards. Amandla's grandma wants to reconnect, but her grandfather is a huge bigot, and there are SO many dark family skeletons in the closet. You just !! Are not ready for what Amandla discovers. I ached for what she goes through; she has so many mixed feelings and hopes and hurt to absorb. I adored Amandla. She has such a fantastic voice that leaps off the page, and she's not ashamed of who she is or where she comes from, while also wanting to know the family secrets and dreaming of a better life for her and her mum. I also loved her friends, especially Lil Bit, who has a great sense of humour, and is just such a loyal and stubborn best friend. They also end up making friends with Sugar Town's resident "princess", named Goodness, who they used to think was stuck up but actually she's amazing. There is also a smidge of romance for Amandla AND there's a side queer romance which I loved!! The book unpacks so many themes, and discusses poverty vs gross wealth with keen precision. There's community love and pride in Amandla's neighbourhood, as well as shifty people and danger. I found it really hard to forgive the Bollards though...like, the book handles the themes of second chances well while also refusing to let hate and bigotry get a free pass. And OH there are tense scenes and some massive plot twists. The writing is engaging and captivating, and you will fall in love with Amandla's voice as you tumble into this story of family drama, trauma, and redemption. I'm so so glad I got to read this one!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Brenda

    Amandla Zenzile Harden and her mother, Annalisa Honey-Blossom Harden, lived together in a shabby old home in Sugar Town, but it was theirs and Annalisa always kept it immaculate. She had good days and bad, with her memory of the past and Amandla’s father fractured. But Annalise always believed Amandla’s father would return to them. Amandla was fifteen – had just turned that age on one of her mother’s bad days – and when she discovered an address in her mother’s bag, she was determined to go ther Amandla Zenzile Harden and her mother, Annalisa Honey-Blossom Harden, lived together in a shabby old home in Sugar Town, but it was theirs and Annalisa always kept it immaculate. She had good days and bad, with her memory of the past and Amandla’s father fractured. But Annalise always believed Amandla’s father would return to them. Amandla was fifteen – had just turned that age on one of her mother’s bad days – and when she discovered an address in her mother’s bag, she was determined to go there, to Durham, only fifteen miles from Sugar Town. It was when she arrived at the address and saw who was there that the shock hit deep inside. Amandla and her mother were different. Annalisa was white, Amandla was brown. Her father was a Zulu – that much she knew. But what was ahead for the mother and daughter, along with Amandla’s friends, Lil Bit and Goodness, would shake the foundations of everything she had known over her fifteen years. She would discover more about true evil, racism and the horrors of the world than she ever wanted to know. But she would also discover familial love and hope. What would be the outcome of Amandla and Annalisa? Sugar Town Queens by Aussie author Malla Nunn is a breathtaking, poignant and heartbreaking account of one family in a small shanty town in South Africa. After Nelson Mandela declared all people equal, there were many who didn’t adjust. I loved the characters of Amandla, Lil Bit and Goodness; of Annalisa and Mayme, of Mrs M and the all-seeing Blind Auntie. Sugar Town Queens is an exceptional read which brought me to tears on more than one occasion. It’s also a superb book which I have no hesitation in recommending highly. With thanks to Allen & Unwin for my ARC to read in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    April (Aprilius Maximus)

    An easy 5 stars! Amandla lives with her white mother in a one room house in a makeshift town in South Africa they call Sugar Town. Her mum struggles with her mental health and has gaps in her memory when it comes to Amandla’s Black dad but one day she discovers a HUGE family secret that blows her world wide open. This was absolutely stunning! Nunn has an effortless way of bringing these complex characters to life. Amandla and her friends are so loveable and fierce and the way that they stuck toge An easy 5 stars! Amandla lives with her white mother in a one room house in a makeshift town in South Africa they call Sugar Town. Her mum struggles with her mental health and has gaps in her memory when it comes to Amandla’s Black dad but one day she discovers a HUGE family secret that blows her world wide open. This was absolutely stunning! Nunn has an effortless way of bringing these complex characters to life. Amandla and her friends are so loveable and fierce and the way that they stuck together through everything was so heartwarming. The themes of bigotry, racism and living in poverty are effortlessly woven into the plot with so much care, I wasn’t surprised that the author was drawing on personal and past experiences. Some extra things that I wanted to mention is that there were the two main romances (there’s a delightful queer side romance!), and the ending of this book???? Excuse me while I go and cry for 10 years 🤧 I can’t recommend this book enough and I also wanted to mention that I read this while South Africa is going through a time of civil unrest so I will leave a link for how you can help! https://twitter.com/comcapacity/statu... Thank you so much to Allen and Unwin for the review copy!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Andy

    Thank you to Netgalley and Bookish First for an ARC of this in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Sugar Town Queens is a YA Coming of Age about Amandla, a biracial South African teenage girl. On her fifteenth birthday, Amandla wakes up to her mother giving her a blue sheet dress and saying she had a vision about Amandla's father. Later that same day Amandla finds a mysterious address and a lump of cash in the bottom of her mother's bag. Amandla is determined to find out what Thank you to Netgalley and Bookish First for an ARC of this in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Sugar Town Queens is a YA Coming of Age about Amandla, a biracial South African teenage girl. On her fifteenth birthday, Amandla wakes up to her mother giving her a blue sheet dress and saying she had a vision about Amandla's father. Later that same day Amandla finds a mysterious address and a lump of cash in the bottom of her mother's bag. Amandla is determined to find out what her mother is hiding and when she does it changes her life in unimaginable ways. This was simultaneously a heartwarming and heartbreaking book. It's all about family and growing up. I loved Amandla, she was such a strong character with a clear voice. She knew her world was small and she was ready to explore more of it. When she finds out her mother's mom wants to reconnect, Amandla jumps in feet first. However, her grandfather, Neville, constantly tries to stop her and keep her from visiting Mayme. I loved getting to know the Sugar Town inhabitants and see their lives. Amandla's best friend Lil Bit was my favorite. She was a genius and super snarky (my favorite combo). Plus there was definitely some attraction between her and Amandla's new friend, Goodness. These two were so cute and I was immediately shipping it from the beginning. The ending of this book felt like it went from 1 to 100 really fast. So much happened at the end that I was not expecting one bit and my heart was IN PAIN. I definitely cried at the end and like why did the author make me feel all those FEELS. Very much loved this story and would pick up another of the author's books immediately. Rep: Black/biracial South African female MC, white mother with PTSD and memory loss, white grandmother with heart failure (chronic/terminal), Black South African male love interest, two Black South African sapphic female side characters. MC and her Sugar Town friends are all poor. CWs: Abandonment/forced institutionalization of MC's mother in the past, blood, chronic/terminal illness (heart failure), death, death of parent, emotional abuse, grief, medical content, medical trauma-forced electroshock treatment, misogyny, mental illness (PTSD/memory loss), racial slurs, racism, suicide, adult/minor relationship & rape, sexual harassment, gun violence, violence, religious bigotry, homophobia.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mallory

    I really enjoyed this story and especially liked the glimpse into another culture. Amandla has no idea the secrets her mother has been hiding but a series of events that starts on her birthday leads her on a unique adventure that leads her into discovering more about her family and where her mother came from. Amandla and her mother live in a poor neighborhood called Sugar Town, but Amandla discovers her mother didn’t always live there. Amandla’s mother doesn’t really fit in as she is white and t I really enjoyed this story and especially liked the glimpse into another culture. Amandla has no idea the secrets her mother has been hiding but a series of events that starts on her birthday leads her on a unique adventure that leads her into discovering more about her family and where her mother came from. Amandla and her mother live in a poor neighborhood called Sugar Town, but Amandla discovers her mother didn’t always live there. Amandla’s mother doesn’t really fit in as she is white and the neighborhood is mostly black. Amandla never met her father, but her mother is convinced if they do the right things he will return to them. Amandla’s mother struggles with her memory and sometimes acts a little oddly although Amandla doesn’t know why. After finding a clue in her mother’s purse Amandla and her friends Lil Bit and Goodness track down her mother’s secret and find her mother’s family. I do wish Lil Bit and Goodness had been developed a little further, but overall I loved this family drama that really drew me in.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Katie B

    4.5 stars Full review coming soon.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    Content Warnings at end of review. Thank you to Bookish First and Penguin Teen for a finished copy of this book. Sugar Town Queens follows Amandla as she discovers the secrets her mother has kept hidden from her about her family and learns to rely on other people. This was such a good book! I loved how interesting Amandla was as a main character. I particularly loved the dynamic between her and her mother and how that relationship developed, and I loved watching her learn more about her family and Content Warnings at end of review. Thank you to Bookish First and Penguin Teen for a finished copy of this book. Sugar Town Queens follows Amandla as she discovers the secrets her mother has kept hidden from her about her family and learns to rely on other people. This was such a good book! I loved how interesting Amandla was as a main character. I particularly loved the dynamic between her and her mother and how that relationship developed, and I loved watching her learn more about her family and friends throughout the book. The relationship she has with her friends is such a great one! I love seeing all three of them on the cover and love the way they develop into a sort of found family! This is a great coming-of-age novel and deals with family, friends, identity, love and loss. It also deals with power structures, wealth, racism and colorism, sexism, and many other things that I wish 15 year olds like Amandla didn't have to deal with, but do. I thought this book did a great job! Content Warnings Graphic: Chronic illness, Terminal illness, Blood, Emotional abuse, Death, Gun violence, Sexual harassment, and Violence Moderate: Forced institutionalization, Death of parent, Medical content, Medical trauma, and Mental illness Minor: Homophobia, Religious bigotry, and Sexual assault

  8. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

    I loved this. I found it heart-warming, genuine and thoughtful.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sophia

    Nunn's storytelling, in addition to the strong female characters, was enjoyable to follow. The story, like the colorful cover, was enchanting. However, it fell flat for me (classic case of "it's me, not you"). My favorite part was learning about the characters. I love the trio of Amandla, Lil Bit, and Goodness and how supportive they were of each other. Individually, Amandla's character arc was quite nice to follow. And her mother's character was undoubtedly an interesting one. However, the rest Nunn's storytelling, in addition to the strong female characters, was enjoyable to follow. The story, like the colorful cover, was enchanting. However, it fell flat for me (classic case of "it's me, not you"). My favorite part was learning about the characters. I love the trio of Amandla, Lil Bit, and Goodness and how supportive they were of each other. Individually, Amandla's character arc was quite nice to follow. And her mother's character was undoubtedly an interesting one. However, the rest of the characters were underdeveloped. Lil Bit and Goodness seemed like mere sidekicks for Amandla without strong personalities of their own. And certain character changes felt too abrupt for my liking. Also, this is just a personal pet peeve, but there was no reason for the romance to be in the book when it was completely unnecessary. The plot disappointed me. The first 50% was well-paced with discoveries that continually intrigued me. However, the story then slowed down and stayed too stagnant. I expected the secret that's hinted in the blurb to be grander, but it wasn't. And, like I previously mentioned, there were some developments in the latter half that felt way too abrupt and came out of nowhere. The writing was great. Nunn seamlessly wove themes and social commentary into the novel without making it sound awkward. And there were also a couple of quotes that I adored. Amandla's narrative voice was strong throughout the novel and captivating to read. I'd definitely recommend this book to anyone who'd love a good family drama and coming-of-age story with mystery elements! Thank you so much to TLC Book Tours for sending me this book!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brooklyn Tayla

    I received a copy of Sugar Town Queens from Allen & Unwin in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own. Sugar Town Queens demands to be read and devoured! It is poignant and punchy, raw and completely quick paced! Its main character, Amandla, is one you instantly feel pain for, having constant whispers about her and her Mother, Annalisa. Amandla is often scored about, a mixed race child of a white woman and a black man, in a small town where everyone knows each other’s business and g I received a copy of Sugar Town Queens from Allen & Unwin in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own. Sugar Town Queens demands to be read and devoured! It is poignant and punchy, raw and completely quick paced! Its main character, Amandla, is one you instantly feel pain for, having constant whispers about her and her Mother, Annalisa. Amandla is often scored about, a mixed race child of a white woman and a black man, in a small town where everyone knows each other’s business and gossip is quickly spread! Amandla is so strong though, she definitely reads far older than her 15 years, given everything she’s has to go through! Right from the get go, I was instantly swept up in Sugar Town Queens, intrigued by Annalisa’s supposed visions, where she thinks if Amandla abides by certain activities, her estranged Father will return! Sadly though, there’s no proof this will happen, as it’s revealed that Amandla has tried to do anything to appease her Mum and her visions, it’s just so poignant that Annalisa is so hopeful that these idiosyncrasies will work, you just can’t help but feel an ache for Amandla! I love how much friendship is integral within Sugar Town Queens, with Lil Bit and Amandla at the helm! Lil Bit and Amandla (the rapid addition of Goodness (literally) was just a joy! But Amandla and Lil Bit, joined by their own private tragedies, as being seen as outcasts and scorned upon by some others within their small town, just had such an amazing friendship! (although it absolutely is worth noting that there are a lot of beautiful personalities with the Shanty Town!) Honestly, how life is depicted in this town really had me thinking about life in poorer communities, as Sugar Town is essentially seen as a slum! We read about how Amandla and Annalisa live in a tiny shack, with the bare minimum, yet, its when Amandla finds a wad of notes within her Mum’s handbag, once she’s determined to find out where she goes during her routine outings, that set the wheels in motion, as it were! Not wanting to go too much into the nitty gritty of the plot of Sugar Town Queens too much, as I believe it’s best to go into it relatively blind (as I did, not knowing too much at all about the story prior to diving in), but what I didn’t expect was to be as impacted by the story and the characters as much as I was! All throughout the 312 pages, I felt completely immersed in Sugar Town Queens, feeling Amandla’s pain, her fury, throughout, Sugar Town Queens is an absolute must, must read!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Julie (Bookish.Intoxication)

    From the first page, we are thrown head first into Amandla's world, torn between keeping her mother happy and surviving school. From the first, Amandla is a character that is easy to like, easy to feel compassion towards. She feels real, gritty even. Sugar Town Queens talks about racism in a way that makes you feel disgusted by humanity. How people can throw away a part of their family because of their skin. Nunn allows the reader to make their own assumptions about the motives of Amandla's fami From the first page, we are thrown head first into Amandla's world, torn between keeping her mother happy and surviving school. From the first, Amandla is a character that is easy to like, easy to feel compassion towards. She feels real, gritty even. Sugar Town Queens talks about racism in a way that makes you feel disgusted by humanity. How people can throw away a part of their family because of their skin. Nunn allows the reader to make their own assumptions about the motives of Amandla's family and their shunning of her and her mother, and then gently reveals the horrible truth. It is expertly done. This book is written in a way that keeps you on your toes and constantly contemplating what it means to be human and how we take life's creature comforts for granted. Not only is it written in such an emotive and thought provoking way, it is filled to the brim with strong and complex characters. Amandla is such a strong young woman, surrounded by strong women. To see her grow and become someone she is proud of, is fantastic. Her character progression is definitely the highlight of this book, seeing her realise that she does matter and she isn't worthless, that she is a person and deserves to be treated as such. The ending to this powerful novel is bitter sweet, it is clouded with loss but also growth and family and acceptance. This unique and poignant book is not to be missed. Thank you to Allen and Unwin for sending me out a review copy of this title. All thoughts are my own.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mae (readingwithmae)

    Thank you to Penguin Teen for providing me with an e-ARC of this book through NetGalley! All opinions are my own. CW: Racism, homophobia, forced institutionalization, chronic illness, emotional abuse, misogyny, gun violence, violence, death of a parent, death of a child, sexual harassment, mental illness, descriptions of blood Sugar Town Queens follows mixed-race Amandla and her white mother Annalisa, who live in a small South African township called Sugar Town. Amandla has long wondered about her Thank you to Penguin Teen for providing me with an e-ARC of this book through NetGalley! All opinions are my own. CW: Racism, homophobia, forced institutionalization, chronic illness, emotional abuse, misogyny, gun violence, violence, death of a parent, death of a child, sexual harassment, mental illness, descriptions of blood Sugar Town Queens follows mixed-race Amandla and her white mother Annalisa, who live in a small South African township called Sugar Town. Amandla has long wondered about her mother's past and where she comes from, but Annalisa has gaps in her memory that prevent her from sharing her story with her daughter. When Amandla finds a large amount of money bound with an address in her mother's purse, she decides to investigate and see what she can uncover about her family history. This was a wonderfully written, engaging novel that explores some very serious topics such as racism in South Africa, generational wealth, and more (see CW above for other sensitive topics). It is short and fast-paced with a strong willed protagonist and fun side characters that I think everyone would love. This is definitely more of a character driven novel, which is something I personally love, but keep that in mind when you get into reading it if you aren't used to reading books in this style or if it's something you don't normally gravitate toward. Overall, I encourage everybody to give this book a chance when it comes out on August 3rd. You won't regret it!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Laura (thechronicbookworm)

    Trigger Warnings: racism, violence, grief, death, mental illness, homophobia, misogyny, emotional abuse, sexual harassment, forced institutionalization, Sugar Town Queens is a South African young adult contemporary story about family, friendship, race, secrets and love. Malla Nunn’s writing beautifully captured Amandla’s story and the strong bonds between mother and daughter. Sugar Town Queens is a story that will stay with you long after you finish reading. Sugar Town Queens follows biracial tee Trigger Warnings: racism, violence, grief, death, mental illness, homophobia, misogyny, emotional abuse, sexual harassment, forced institutionalization, Sugar Town Queens is a South African young adult contemporary story about family, friendship, race, secrets and love. Malla Nunn’s writing beautifully captured Amandla’s story and the strong bonds between mother and daughter. Sugar Town Queens is a story that will stay with you long after you finish reading. Sugar Town Queens follows biracial teenager Amandla Harden as she discovers the family she never knew she had. I loved how friendship and family were such an important part of this story. Amandla and her mum Annalisa have a complicated relationship, but they are there for each other through all the ups and downs. Goodness and Lil Bet are Amandla’s friends and it was great seeing their friendship with Amandla develop and strengthen throughout Sugar Town Queens. Overall, I highly recommend reading Sugar Town Queens it was a heartfelt and beautifully written story! Thank you to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chris G.

    Mixed Amandla and her white mom, Annalisa, don’t live in the worst part of their South African township;; they can afford Amandla’s high school fees and have a roof over their heads but are just barely scraping by and Amandla can easily foresee a future when their circumstances will worsen. Annalisa’s secrecy and frequent memory lapses worry Amandla so she, with friends Lil Bit and Goodness, decide to investigate a mysterious address Amandla finds (along with a surprising amount of cash) in her Mixed Amandla and her white mom, Annalisa, don’t live in the worst part of their South African township;; they can afford Amandla’s high school fees and have a roof over their heads but are just barely scraping by and Amandla can easily foresee a future when their circumstances will worsen. Annalisa’s secrecy and frequent memory lapses worry Amandla so she, with friends Lil Bit and Goodness, decide to investigate a mysterious address Amandla finds (along with a surprising amount of cash) in her mom’s purse. Vivid settings, nuanced characters, and a compelling plot keep the reader turning pages. The sights, sounds, and smells of Sugar Town and the variety of circumstances of Sugar Town residents are especially well-realized.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Nunn creates a really strong narrator whose story was so fun to follow, and I really love the book’s premise! Nunn is able to balance a page turning mystery novel with a coming-of-age story without sacrificing either genre. While the premise was really strong, the overall book fell a little short for me. A lot of the side characters felt underdeveloped, and several major plot points felt abrupt, as there wasn’t always enough space for the reader to fully digest the storyline before the next twist Nunn creates a really strong narrator whose story was so fun to follow, and I really love the book’s premise! Nunn is able to balance a page turning mystery novel with a coming-of-age story without sacrificing either genre. While the premise was really strong, the overall book fell a little short for me. A lot of the side characters felt underdeveloped, and several major plot points felt abrupt, as there wasn’t always enough space for the reader to fully digest the storyline before the next twist. Overall I think this is an enjoyable read with both a lot of strength and some room to grow. Thank you to Penguin Young Readers for providing a digital copy of Sugar Town Queens in exchange for my honest review!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rose (booksofmagicandmystery)

    *Special thanks to Penguin Teen for providing me with an eARC of this book!* I didn't really know what to expect going into this book, but it turned out to be a pretty good read. The plot was compelling and I didn't want to put it down! The pacing was a little odd at times and the characters were pretty undeveloped, but overall it was enjoyable and had a nice mystery element. I loved the main character, Amandla. She was brave and strong, and she didn't let other people push her around. She was pr *Special thanks to Penguin Teen for providing me with an eARC of this book!* I didn't really know what to expect going into this book, but it turned out to be a pretty good read. The plot was compelling and I didn't want to put it down! The pacing was a little odd at times and the characters were pretty undeveloped, but overall it was enjoyable and had a nice mystery element. I loved the main character, Amandla. She was brave and strong, and she didn't let other people push her around. She was protective of the people she loved, especially her mother, and was willing to fight to discover the truth about her family. Her character arc was wonderful; you could really feel her coming into her true self. Her mom, Annalisa, was an interesting character too. Her presence was important, but she was more of a catalyst in the plot. I didn't feel much of an emotional connection to her until the end when we learned more about her past. ​Amandla's friends, Lil Bit and Goodness, felt a bit one-dimensional; however, I liked how they were always there to support Amandla. I'm still interested in learning more about Lil Bit, and I think another book starring her would be great! I feel like there's a lot more to her story. The romance was a minor plot point, but it was cute! I do question how old the romantic interest was supposed to be, though; the book made it seem like he was around 18 or 19 (he was seemingly done with school and working), but Amandla just turned 15 at the beginning of the book, so that would be a pretty wide age gap. In order to keep this review spoiler-free I won't mention any other characters specifically by name, but let's just say that one of them annoyed me throughout the entire book, I wanted to banish two others to the depths of Mordor, and the others were just bland. Overall, I wasn't very impressed with the characters in this book. I did enjoy the mystery in this book! The mystery vibes were subtle, but they added a lot. However, I would categorize this as more of a coming-of-age contemporary than a mystery. This book was very heartwarming, too, and I liked the focus on friends and family. The descriptions were also really vivid and made me feel like I was with the characters in Sugar Town!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karla Dee

    Rainbow Peoples **spoilerz* OMG, this is going to be one of the best YA novels I'll read in a while. Amandla had me laughing until I cried but by the end I was mostly crying. What a gut wrenching novel with so many ups and downs?!!? Her grandpa truly is the devil and I couldn't ever forgive him either. Amandla pulling a gun out on him was surprising and I am glad she really didn't have the bullets to kill him...I was thinking the grandma was going to have a literal heart attack and I could barely Rainbow Peoples **spoilerz* OMG, this is going to be one of the best YA novels I'll read in a while. Amandla had me laughing until I cried but by the end I was mostly crying. What a gut wrenching novel with so many ups and downs?!!? Her grandpa truly is the devil and I couldn't ever forgive him either. Amandla pulling a gun out on him was surprising and I am glad she really didn't have the bullets to kill him...I was thinking the grandma was going to have a literal heart attack and I could barely keep listening to the audio book. Another moment I had trouble getting past is when Jacob stabs Amandla's mother?! I really thought he and his bros were all talk but turned out he was worse than some creepo. The kid was a murderer and to think he just preyed on little girls and most people didn't bat and eye. This is why I think Amandla was blaming herself and asking was it something she said or wore to invite his attention. We all know it is never what you wear but in some communities they will blame women before they blame men for anything which is what I think Amandla was dealing with and why she internally blamed herself for what happened to Jacob.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Renee (The B-Roll)

    Amandla lives with her mother in a small house in Sugar Town, South Africa. She is constantly dealing with not knowing her father and her biracial identity; her mother never can give her any full answers about her birth father. In fact, her mother does not seem to remember much but still has fantasies and visions about him coming back into their lives. Of course, the women are the talk of Sugar Town. This book is an exploration of identity and race, and what/how family can work to shape or allevia Amandla lives with her mother in a small house in Sugar Town, South Africa. She is constantly dealing with not knowing her father and her biracial identity; her mother never can give her any full answers about her birth father. In fact, her mother does not seem to remember much but still has fantasies and visions about him coming back into their lives. Of course, the women are the talk of Sugar Town. This book is an exploration of identity and race, and what/how family can work to shape or alleviate those ideas. I loved the plot of this book and how quickly it moves once Amandla finds a trove of money and begins to believe that her mother has more secrets than not. I also loved how Amandla is a strong female central character who vows to figure out the secrets hiding in her own home and expose all of Sugar Town if it comes to that. We need more books set in other places that feature these strong women.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ali Bunke

    Sugar Town Queens surprised me in a lot of ways. Set in a South African township near Durban, the story explored the deep divide between wealth and race. Amandla is a biracial teen whose white mother is missing memories and whose father her mother can not remember. They live with the poorest of the poor and she has no family other than her mother. But Amandla's mother has secrets and when she follows her one day, what she finds changes everything. I found this book eye-opening for many reasons in Sugar Town Queens surprised me in a lot of ways. Set in a South African township near Durban, the story explored the deep divide between wealth and race. Amandla is a biracial teen whose white mother is missing memories and whose father her mother can not remember. They live with the poorest of the poor and she has no family other than her mother. But Amandla's mother has secrets and when she follows her one day, what she finds changes everything. I found this book eye-opening for many reasons including the extreme racism, shocking elitism, and the devastating living conditions existing in townships. The author doesn't make the story about this, however. They are the backdrop to the story which is about family and friendship. How both family and friends have the ability to affect our lives for good or very bad. While Amandla and her mother have created a tight bond with only the two of them, it requires letting others in to be able to move forward and live a full life.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jypsy Junction

    Set in Sugar Town, South Africa, Amandla is a girl who just wants answers, respect, and freedom. One thing she seems she can’t put her finger on is her mother, Annalisa, who has visions of her father. Most recently, a vision came on her 15th birthday which Amandla is like, “Girl, come on?!!” . Because Amandla has wonderful friends, they start becoming sleuths about her mother and results in her learning the truth of her mother’s heritage. This leads into a whirlwind of emotions, eradicating bigots Set in Sugar Town, South Africa, Amandla is a girl who just wants answers, respect, and freedom. One thing she seems she can’t put her finger on is her mother, Annalisa, who has visions of her father. Most recently, a vision came on her 15th birthday which Amandla is like, “Girl, come on?!!” . Because Amandla has wonderful friends, they start becoming sleuths about her mother and results in her learning the truth of her mother’s heritage. This leads into a whirlwind of emotions, eradicating bigots, and becoming even more resilient before. . This story took me out of my reading block and touches on topics such as racial issues, colorism, and classism. Please believe there are some twists and you’ll love Mrs. Mashanini!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Becca Fitzpatrick (bookscandlescats)

    This is an amazing, fast paced YA novel. It held attention throughout, and I didn't want to put it down! The story was great, and the characters were likeable. I loved the friendships portrayed in this book, as well as the emotion shown throughout. Thamk you so much to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of this one to review. This is an amazing, fast paced YA novel. It held attention throughout, and I didn't want to put it down! The story was great, and the characters were likeable. I loved the friendships portrayed in this book, as well as the emotion shown throughout. Thamk you so much to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy of this one to review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Larissa

    Thank you NetGalley & G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers for this eARC! Originally, I thought this book was historical fiction. Imagine my surprise when one of the characters had the latest iPhone! However, realizing it takes place in present day Durban makes it even more important since it discusses and explores racism and poverty. I finished this book in a day. That’s how badly I wanted to know how the story unraveled. It follows Amandla, who goes on a journey to uncover secrets about he Thank you NetGalley & G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers for this eARC! Originally, I thought this book was historical fiction. Imagine my surprise when one of the characters had the latest iPhone! However, realizing it takes place in present day Durban makes it even more important since it discusses and explores racism and poverty. I finished this book in a day. That’s how badly I wanted to know how the story unraveled. It follows Amandla, who goes on a journey to uncover secrets about her family. She doesn’t get much help from her mother, since her memory is hazy. However, there has to be something there since her mother is white and Amandla is Black. As Amandla digs deeper, she uncovers a devastating web of secrets. Can she handle the truth? I really enjoyed this book. Firstly, it takes place outside of America and Europe. So many books in YA take place in America or Europe. This one takes place in a township outside of Durban. Although it can’t describe all of the ways of life there, it definitely broadened my perspective of things. I was intrigued to read more about Amandla’s way of life + perspective of the things around her. In addition, after I realized the story takes place in the present, I was fascinated and devastated to read about Amandla’s experiences with racism in her township and within her family. It helped me realize that although apartheid had ended, the roots of racism run deep (as it does in America). The book gives a lot of hope for change though. I really enjoyed the themes of family + what it means to be a family. The relationship between Amandla and her mom is really special. Reading about them made me think about my mom. Also, I’m a sucker for family secrets—That’s what kept me turning the pages the whole time. I wanted to discover the truth of everything that happened. There wasn’t anything about the story or the writing that I didn’t like. This book is a solid 4/5 for me. If you’re looking for books set outside of America or Europe, this is a great read. Also, if you love family secrets and drama, this is a great read. Some trigger warnings to be aware of are: racism, poverty, violence, harassment. If you liked The Astonishing Color of After or From Little Tokyo With Love, this is a good book to try!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Allie B I Literally Booked Solid

    “Too black. Too white. Never quite right.” Living in the Sugar Town slums of South Africa, Amandla is turning 15, but bears a lot of responsibility on her shoulders. As a mixed race teen with a white mother who isn't quite all there, Amandla is doing the best she can to succeed in school to better her life. But when an address in her mom's purse leads Amandla to her lost (and very rich) white family members she never knew existed, she will be forced to fight for what is hers in order to find the “Too black. Too white. Never quite right.” Living in the Sugar Town slums of South Africa, Amandla is turning 15, but bears a lot of responsibility on her shoulders. As a mixed race teen with a white mother who isn't quite all there, Amandla is doing the best she can to succeed in school to better her life. But when an address in her mom's purse leads Amandla to her lost (and very rich) white family members she never knew existed, she will be forced to fight for what is hers in order to find the truth about what happened to her mother 16 years ago. Sugar Town Queens is a beautiful book. It tackles tough themes, such as racism and poverty. Living in post-apartheid South Africa, you are broken down into black, mixed, or white, with whites having privilege and vast opportunities. Being mixed leaves you at the bottom of the food chain. The author does an amazing job shining a light on Sugar Town and contrasting it with the demographically white city of Durban. While Sugar Town is a slum, filled with poverty, drugs, and crime, Amandla's story juxtaposes it against the good side of the township - her neighbors, the school, friendships. Amandla is a fighter and quite honestly, I am not sure I would make it living the life that she does. Fiercely loyal, she protects her mother, despite viewing her as crazy and is loyal to her friends. Fighting for what is right, Amandla has a strong moral compass, even though she does not feel like she truly fits into a box in her life. The letter at the end nearly broke my heart, but gave me hope for Amandla's future. As a history teacher, I have a vast background knowledge of South African's apartheid history, so this story touched me deeply. The author does a great job giving the basics of the dynamics of South Africa, that makes it easy and digestible for younger readers to grasp. Thank you Penguin Teen and NetGalley for the advanced copy.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Irezelina

    Thank you BookishFirst, author Malla Nunn, and her publishing company for sending a copy of Sugar Town Queens for me to read. I was hooked from the First Impression and the story continued to hook me because it went places I didn't even anticipate. The story's protagonist is Amandla Harden and she lives in an impoverished area called Sugar Town with her single mother Annalisa Harden. Amandla doesn't know who her dad is nor who her extended family is, and it's not from lack of asking but because Thank you BookishFirst, author Malla Nunn, and her publishing company for sending a copy of Sugar Town Queens for me to read. I was hooked from the First Impression and the story continued to hook me because it went places I didn't even anticipate. The story's protagonist is Amandla Harden and she lives in an impoverished area called Sugar Town with her single mother Annalisa Harden. Amandla doesn't know who her dad is nor who her extended family is, and it's not from lack of asking but because her mom doesn't quite seem to remember or is reluctant to answer. One day her mom comes home with a ton of cash and a mysterious note with a location, date, and time written on it. Together with her best friend Lil Bit and their new friend Goodness, they use their limited resources to find out where the money came from and what is going on! The book was a very fast and easy read, the chapters were short, and the pace was relatively fast. A lot of stuff happens and I wasn't quite sure if everything happened in the span of a couple days or more spread out over several weeks, but I did know it couldn't have been more than a month or two. Everything felt like it was happening so fast and in succession so I didn't know if Amandla had a chance to breathe or she was sprinting through everything. The story took its time to conclude. I was surprised there were so many chapters left in the book after the climax. I liked having the closure but it felt a little dragged out. I did appreciate how all of Amandla's questions about her family were answered and that she became a more confident and mature girl by the end of the story. Overall I thought it was a light and fun read, and I'm interested in checking out other books by Malla Nunn. The back cover of the book I received was all reviews for When the Ground is Hard, which feels like a whole different vibe than Sugar Town Queens. I hope reviews for Sugar Town Queens will take its place soon!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Tory

    Sugar Town Queens is a heartfelt tribute to family dynamics and the different forms love takes. Despite her mother’s outlandish visions and depression spells driven by forgotten past traumas, Amandla loves her mother. Amandla takes on a role of supporting her mother as the need arises, making meals, cleaning house, and playing along with her often embarrassing ideas to keep her from descending into darkness. As Amandla learns more about her mother’s past, she stands by her side and never blames Sugar Town Queens is a heartfelt tribute to family dynamics and the different forms love takes. Despite her mother’s outlandish visions and depression spells driven by forgotten past traumas, Amandla loves her mother. Amandla takes on a role of supporting her mother as the need arises, making meals, cleaning house, and playing along with her often embarrassing ideas to keep her from descending into darkness. As Amandla learns more about her mother’s past, she stands by her side and never blames her for their current lifestyle or her mental health issues. While it is not an ideal situation to have a child taking care of a parent at such a young age, I really appreciate how much Amandla’s mother also shows up for her daughter as best she can when the moment calls for it. They clearly have an unconditional love for each other that stands through every hardship. This kind of deep love is a rare find in many stories and I’m happy to have encountered it. Of course, there are also plenty of other important relationships developed throughout the novel. Amandla has a strong bond with her best friend, Lil Bit, but otherwise doesn’t really have friends. However, both girls make new friends in unexpected places over the course of a couple weeks, showing how amazing it can be to open up to other people in your extended communities. Amandla also gets an opportunity to get to know some extended family for the first time and has to deal with the stigma of being the odd one out in terms of race and socioeconomic status. She has to determine if she can forgive past wrongs and if making these new relationships work is worth all the potential heartbreak. I love how many wonderful women star in this story and I loved watching them interact and grow.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Bookbookowl)

    Thank you so much to Allen & Unwin for sending me a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review! Amandla and her mother, Annalise, live in Sugar Town, a Township in South Africa. Struggling to survive financially and with her mother’s frequent memory lapses and delusions about her missing father’s return, Amandla’s dreams of leaving Sugar Town have always been far away. When she finds a scrap of paper, with an unfamiliar address on it, in her mother’s bag, Amandla sets the wheels in motio Thank you so much to Allen & Unwin for sending me a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review! Amandla and her mother, Annalise, live in Sugar Town, a Township in South Africa. Struggling to survive financially and with her mother’s frequent memory lapses and delusions about her missing father’s return, Amandla’s dreams of leaving Sugar Town have always been far away. When she finds a scrap of paper, with an unfamiliar address on it, in her mother’s bag, Amandla sets the wheels in motion to discover the past her mother can’t remember. After being told their family consists only of her and her mother, suddenly Amandla discovers a grandmother. A rich grandmother. With an awful, racist grandfather. And her grandfather is determined that Amandla will not get to know her dying grandmother. This was such a brilliant read, with incredible characters and a story that was both strong and touching. Amandla’s friends, Lil Bit and Goodness were fantastic side characters with their own family drama, all lending to a story that captured the heart and desperation of Sugar Town. Sugar Town Queens absolutely captivated me. I couldn’t put it down. I NEEDED to know what had happened in Annalise’s past and why Amandla was living in Sugar Town when her extended family were so wealthy. With tough themes of racism, poverty and mental illness, the author did a wonderful job of weaving a story that gives an insight into a post apartheid South Africa. If you’re looking for a book with hidden family secrets, tough situations and characters you’ll fall in love with, make sure you check out Sugar Town Queens!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ariel Kelly

    Thank you, Penguin Teen, for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review! Sugar Town Queens is about 15-year old Amandla, a mixed-race girl from South African. Amandla lives with her single mother, Annalisa, a white woman suffering from memory loss and past trauma. Amandla and her mother go on a journey to find out about Annalisa's family. Overall, I had mixed feelings about this book. I really enjoyed the beginning. It was engaging and fast-paced, but once I hit about 50%, the stor Thank you, Penguin Teen, for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review! Sugar Town Queens is about 15-year old Amandla, a mixed-race girl from South African. Amandla lives with her single mother, Annalisa, a white woman suffering from memory loss and past trauma. Amandla and her mother go on a journey to find out about Annalisa's family. Overall, I had mixed feelings about this book. I really enjoyed the beginning. It was engaging and fast-paced, but once I hit about 50%, the story started to slow down. The reader gets enough information about Annalisa's past early on that you can infer the rest of the story. Once that happened, I began to lose interest in the book; because Amandla is still searching, even though you have the same information. Personally, I was more interested in learning about Amandla's father ad Annalisa's relationship with him, but that was just squished in at the end. There is also a small romance plot in this book, but the age of the male love interest is never shared. Lewis is written as an adult. Maybe 18 or 19. It appears he is no longer in school and works for his wealthy family. I didn't like that. Amandla turns 15 at the beginning of the book; the author should have a clearly established teenager for her love interest, not a possible adult. I rate the book 3 stars. I enjoyed some parts of it, but I wouldn't purchase it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    By readingrebecca If you are looking for a change of pace from the plethora of fantasy tales, this contemporary story is a fast read with a likeable and realistic teen girl trying to find her way in life South Africa. Amandle is the 15-year-old, first-person narrator, and is of mixed race; her mother is a blonde white woman and her father whom she does not know was a Zulu man. Their home is in the “Sugar Town” slum area, a one-room place which would probably be considered a shanty. Mother (Annali By readingrebecca If you are looking for a change of pace from the plethora of fantasy tales, this contemporary story is a fast read with a likeable and realistic teen girl trying to find her way in life South Africa. Amandle is the 15-year-old, first-person narrator, and is of mixed race; her mother is a blonde white woman and her father whom she does not know was a Zulu man. Their home is in the “Sugar Town” slum area, a one-room place which would probably be considered a shanty. Mother (Annalisa) is honest with daughter Amandle that her grandparents basically disowned Annalisa because of Amandle’s father. She is very curious about her family history and talks about it a great deal with her friend Lil Bit. The mother is so secretive that it drives Amandle to snoop and play detective. The book realistically incorporates some acts of violence, but the books is not a thriller or inappropriate for its intended age group. Mature MG readers could read this book. Crimes happen everywhere, and this book does not pretend that everyone is happy despite being poor or totally depressed because of the poverty. It is what it is, and the characters in this book deal with it. I think people will enjoy this book a great deal – as I did. This is my honest review in exchange for a copy of the book from BookishFirst

  29. 5 out of 5

    Shelby

    *Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review SUGAR TOWN QUEENS is a beautiful, powerful story following Amandla as she is thrown into the heart of her family secrets. I haven't read a book this powerful in ages; it is a real tear jerker but so hopeful and heartwarming. This book takes place in a township in South Africa and discuss the themes of poverty and racism in the country. These were so powerful to read about and experience through A *Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review SUGAR TOWN QUEENS is a beautiful, powerful story following Amandla as she is thrown into the heart of her family secrets. I haven't read a book this powerful in ages; it is a real tear jerker but so hopeful and heartwarming. This book takes place in a township in South Africa and discuss the themes of poverty and racism in the country. These were so powerful to read about and experience through Amandla's eyes and I feel like it will be eye-opening to every reader. I don't want to speak too much on the plot or themes because it's best to read and discover it for yourself, but wow was it so well done. The prevailing theme in this book is family and there are so many instances in which it is explored. The characters are so well written and endearing and the book was an extremely quick read but so impactful. The prose, too, was lyrical; Malla Nunn told a beautiful story. I cannot recommend this book enough. The story is hopeful and heartbreaking and will make you look at the world in a completely different light and I hope you will pick it up for yourself.

  30. 4 out of 5

    John Clark

    Fifteen year old Amandla is half white and half Black. She lives in Sugar Town, a settlement where poor Blacks live in rusting metal shacks and don't venture out at night. Her mother works, but makes barely enough for them to get by. Much of the time, Amandla feels more like the adult because her mother has memory gaps and flights of fancy where she has her daughter do things, or dress oddly as a way to get her daughter’s father to return. Amandla knows almost nothing about him, or either side o Fifteen year old Amandla is half white and half Black. She lives in Sugar Town, a settlement where poor Blacks live in rusting metal shacks and don't venture out at night. Her mother works, but makes barely enough for them to get by. Much of the time, Amandla feels more like the adult because her mother has memory gaps and flights of fancy where she has her daughter do things, or dress oddly as a way to get her daughter’s father to return. Amandla knows almost nothing about him, or either side of her family. When her mother returns home one afternoon, shaky and more disoriented than usual, it's the moment when everything changes. Amandla looks in her bag to get the house key, she finds a large stack of money and then a cryptic note with an address and instructions for entering a doorway there. What follows is part coming of age, part mystery and a lot of dysfunctional family dynamics. In the process of finding out what happened to her mother and father years before, Amandla learns who really loves her, how many friends she has in Sugar Town, how vile and pervasive racism still is in South Africa, and just how strong she is.

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