Ten-year-old Sugar lives on the River Road sugar plantation along the banks of the Mississippi. Slavery is over, but laboring in the fields all day doesn't make her feel very free. Thankfully, Sugar has a knack for finding her own fun, especially when she joins forces with forbidden friend Billy, the white plantation owner's son.

Sugar has always yearned to learn more about the world, and she sees her chance when Chinese workers are brought in to help harvest the cane. The older River Road folks feel threatened, but Sugar is fascinated. As she befriends young Beau and elder Master Liu, they introduce her to the traditions of their culture, and she, in turn, shares the ways of plantation life. Sugar soon realizes that she must be the one to bridge the cultural gap and bring the community together. Here is a story of unlikely friendships and how they can change our lives forever.


Jewell Parker Rhodes is a professor in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts and is affiliated with the Department of English at Arizona State University.

Praise for this book

'Sugar' is sweet. 'Sugar' is sharp. 'Sugar' is to be savored. Told through the sassy-gritty voice of a child, this novel brilliantly blends cultures and traditions not often seen together — that of former slaves and Chinese workers harvesting sugarcane during the aftermath of slavery. With nuanced storytelling, Jewell Parker Rhodes vividly portrays the brutality of the times, as well as the triumphs that arise when a community comes together. Those who read 'Sugar' will be inspired to search deep within themselves to find the true meanings of friendship and freedom.

Andrea Davis Pinkney, Coretta Scott King Award Winner and author of "Bird in a Box"
Cover of Sugar
Date published
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

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