Sugar Run by Mesha Maren
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Blurbed by Scott McClanahan and Lauren Groff, agent Bill Clegg, published by Algonquin, Sugar Run is about a woman who was sentenced at 17 for murder and then without warning released and left without any resources to return home to West Virginia. The story alternates between 2007 ("present" day) and 1989 to fill in the gaps. I can't say I "enjoyed" it per se, that's not the right word for it, because the premise is dark, the main character is flawed and violent, and so is the world she is trying to navigate post-incarceration. I feel like it's supposed to be a character study but doesn't go quite deep enough for me - it's a little too event focused and holds too much back in an attempt to not finish the story of the crime she is accused of until the end of the book. But without knowing the truth of that event you can't really know the truth of that character, because you aren't privy to her full range of thoughts. So now I feel like I'm finished and confronted with processing all of the information I wish I'd had earlier. But that's probably a personal preference. I would still absolutely read her next book.
I do like the setting, the same sex relationships (and it's not about "coming out," but about living with a woman in rural America), it covers drugs and fracking and trying to survive after incarceration.
3.5 stars rounded up
Thanks to the publisher who sent a copy at the end of last year, and I talked about it briefly on a speed dating episode of the podcast. I would say my first impressions lined up with my end impressions. I also appreciate that the author went on tour close to me, in Appalachia, which is nice since the book is set in this region!
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