Times change, of that there is no doubt, and as they change, so do various customs, morals, etc. However, some things stay consistent. For instance, the ‘coming of age’ ritual we all go through. Let me introduce you to a wonderful coming of age story through the form of historical fiction.
The Girl from the Sugar Plantation* by Sharon Maas is set in Georgetown during the 1930s. Mixed-race teenage Mary Grace is eager to know who her birth parents are as she hears countless rumours and whispers regarding her past. The only person she can really confide in is her Aunt Winnie. As Mary Grace sets out to find her place in society, she falls for handsome bachelor Jock Campbell. However, WWII is looming and the decision to fight for freedom or follow the heart looms…
Like Finding Jess, The Girl from the Sugar Plantation fooled me: I had no idea that it was the conclusion of a trilogy! By reading this review, you have the opinion of starting at the beginning of The Quint Chronicles but believe me, this works as a wonderful standalone book. Nevertheless, if you do feel that you would like to read all three books, do start at the beginning as I believe The Girl from the Sugar Plantation will probably give away some of the plots of the other two books.
Let’s go through my favourite things about this book. One is the characters. My favourite character was Mary Grace. Not necessarily because she was the main character but because she was such a genuine, kind person. In a way, one could say she was almost too perfect but that’s not my opinion. What I read was a good role model, a strong, determined, independent young woman not afraid to look adversary in the eye. In fact, all the female characters in this book could almost be described in such a way. Aunt Winnie has a wonderful story (that I won’t spoil here) that truly exemplifies these characteristics. Even Mary Grace’s mother Yoyo, who is certainly not the most likable of people, is shown as strong and determined.
That’s not to say the male characters are weak in any way – certainly not Aunt Winnie’s sons! However, I found Jock Campbell to be the most interesting and there is one simple reason for this: it was a real person upon which he is based. I love a little history lesson within a book!
The themes in The Girl from the Sugar Plantation are also excellent. Mary Grace is a very talented musician and through this talent, she is somehow accepted a little more into society. For me, that shows that music can very often be colourblind, that it can merge communities. Also, we have the theme of hypocrisy. Most white characters in this book are adverse to black people and East Indians, yet there is an acceptance in men using these people for their animalistic desires, and often forcefully too. Through mentions of such occurrences, I could feel Jock’s, Winnie’s and others desire for change.
Finally, I loved how this book was written. The story is mostly told from the perspective of Mary Grace and the author exemplifies her pride in telling her story. The descriptive scenes were beautifully written and I found myself entirely transported to another time and place.
Overall, The Girl from the Sugar Plantation is a book I truly enjoyed. If you are looking for a completely thought-provoking read, this one is for you.
I was sent a copy of this book in return for an honest review.