Reviewed by Barbara B. Brown and Rehana Odendaal
Sugar Town Queens tells the story of Amandla, a 15-year-old mixed race South African girl, living on the edge of hunger in a Black shantytown, with her white mother. Her mother totters between reality and the life she lost years earlier. The story takes wings when Amandla discovers in her mother’s pocket book a large wad of cash with a strange address located in the mostly white city.
With her friends’ encouragement, Amandla heads into the city, hoping to discover the truth about her mentally unstable mother and unknown father. This city building is well guarded, but Amanda finds a surprising way in. Once there, she gradually uncovers the racist events that her mother had buried long ago and that continue to tear her apart.
To unmask more truths, Amandla must keep returning, but the obstacles grow. She asks over and over again, ”What can a Coloured girl from the township do to a white man who has all the power?” The answer becomes clear, as the reader watches Amandla finding a different kind of power growing within her, as she challenges adult authority again and again and finally dares to create a place of peace for her mother, herself and others. Continue reading on Africa Access.
Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on August 03, 2021
Reading Level: High School
Review Source: Africa Access
Publisher's Synopsis: From Los Angeles Times Book Prize Award winner and Edgar Award nominee Malla Nunn comes a stunning portrait of a family divided and a powerful story of how friendship saves and heals.
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. This one involves Amandla wearing a bedsheet loosely stitched as a dress. An outfit, her mother says, is certain to bring Amandla's father back home, as if he were the prince and this was the fairytale ending their family was destined for. But in truth, Amandla's father has long been gone -- since before Amandla was born -- and even her mother's memory of him is hazy. In fact, many of her mother's memories from before Amandla was born are hazy. It's just one of the many reasons people in Sugar Town give them strange looks -- that and the fact her mother is white and Amandla is Black.
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. What she discovers will change the shape and size of her family forever. But with her best friends at her side, Amandla is ready to take on family secrets and the devil himself. These Sugar Town queens are ready to take over the world to expose the hard truths of their lives.