By Jewel Parker Rhodes
Little, Brown, 2013. 272 pages. Historical fiction.
After the end of the civil war, 10 year old Sugar continues to live and work on the plantation where her family had been slaves. Sugar forges a friendship with the white plantation owner's son, Billy- which, although entirely innocent, is still a forbidden relationship. One day, Billy lets it slip that his father has purchased several "Chinamen" to come overseas and help with harvesting the sugarcane. This news makes all the plantation workers fearful, because the Chinese workers are seen as a cultural and economic threat.
This rich narrative follows Sugar's journey of facing the unknown: her life as a free girl, the relationships between her black and white neighbors, and learning about a whole new culture. The Chinese turn out to be real friends, as they open her eyes by teaching her about their food, writing, and storytelling. A beautiful story that focuses on an under-explored, true part of American history.