Review: Sugar Town Queens

Title: Sugar Town Queens
Author: Malla Nunn
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: August 3, 2021
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

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.


Amandla is a fifteen-year-old girl in South Africa. Her mother has visions of the future that don’t often come true. She also has missing memories from her past, including the identity of Amandla’s father. Amandla and her mother stand out, not just because of her mother’s strange visions, but because her mother is white and she is half-Black. When Amandla finds a paper with an address in her mother’s purse, she decides to go there to learn more about her mother’s past. She discovers deeper family secrets than she could have predicted.

Race was an important issue in this book. There is a history of race tensions in South Africa which was depicted in this novel. Amandla had to deal with that first hand, since she had a different appearance from her mother.

There were class prejudices that went along with the race prejudice. The white people were considered “good” and upper class, while the Black people were “bad” or dangerous and lower class. However, one of Amandla’s white relatives was arguably one of the worst characters in the book and treated her mother horribly. Money, power, and skin colour don’t determine if a person is good or bad.

Sugar Town Queens is an eye opening young adult novel.

Thank you G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall

Hurricane Summer by Asha Bromfield

Have you read Sugar Town Queens? What did you think of it?


Author: jilljemmett

Jill lives in Toronto, Canada. She has studied English, Creative Writing, and Publishing. Jill is the creator and content producer of Jill’s Book Blog, where she has published a blog post every day for the last four years, including 5-7 book reviews a week. She can usually be found with her nose in a book.

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