Header Image

Review: The Two Lives of Sara by Catherine Adel West

Title: The Two Lives of Sara
Author: Catherine Adel West
Year published: 2022
Category: Adult fiction
Pages: 320 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)USA (TN, IL)

SummaryIn 1960s Memphis, a young mother finds refuge in a boardinghouse where family encompasses more than just blood and hidden truths can bury you or set you free.  

Sara King has nothing, save for her secrets and the baby in her belly, as she boards the bus to Memphis, hoping to outrun her past in Chicago. She is welcomed with open arms by Mama Sugar, a kindly matriarch and owner of the popular boardinghouse The Scarlet Poplar.

Like many cities in early 1960s America, Memphis is still segregated, but change is in the air. News spreads of the Freedom Riders. Across the country, people like Martin Luther King Jr. are leading the fight for equal rights. Black literature and music provide the stories and soundtrack for these turbulent and hopeful times, and Sara finds herself drawn in by conversations of education, politics and a brighter tomorrow with Jonas, a local schoolteacher. Romance blooms between them, but secrets from Mama Sugar’s past threaten their newfound happiness and lead Sara to make decisions that will reshape the rest of their lives.

Review: I really liked West's past novel, Saving Ruby King, and figured this one was going to be really good, too. And what a stunning cover this one has! I was pulled in immediately.

Sara knows suffering. And grief. But she also experiences the support of strangers who take her in, boarders who become family, and hope. If only she can allow herself to experience it. This multi-generational novel is really well done and is more character driven than plot driven. That doesn't always work for me, but it did this time.

This novel is about expectations and disappointments, learning how to grow up, and how to look out for others. Sara gets it right sometimes and then she doesn't. West has captured Sara so well.

Challenges for which this counts: none

No comments