Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile: Mini Review

Queen Sugar - Natalie Baszile

I'm a bit meh about this book. The basic plot is simple enough; California-girl Charley's father dies, leaving her with a derelict sugar plantation on the other side of the country. Charley heads out there with her eleven year old daughter to try and make a go of things. Of course, when she gets there, she finds nothing but trouble. The story meanders along, introducing us to the characters and the intricacies/politics of sugar cane farming. For me, the farming was the best part of the story and I wish Ms. Baszile had spent more time with Charley actually working the farm. Instead, we see Charley navigate through her relationships with family, including her daughter Micah, her estranged brother, Ralph Angel, and the family matriarch, Miss Honey. The issue here is that the characterizations are not quite fully realized. You feel just enough to get interested in them, but then frustratingly unfulfilled as the narrative proceeds and they fail to acquire any more depth. And that's basically my issue with the book as a whole, actually. There's just enough here to pique my interest, but not enough depth to actually realize it. Still, as a first offering there's a lot to enjoy, and some strong themes running throughout. I would definitely pick up another book by the author.