Sugar Run (Maren) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
The literary lineages here are hard-boiled fiction and film noir, but on every page of her debut novel, Mesha Maren creates bold new takes on those venerable genres, a much needed refresh of worn tropes and cliches. Maren is masterly at describing America’s modern wastelands, the blasted towns not yet and maybe never-to-be the beneficiaries of rehabilitation and reoccupation. You can almost see Maren—like Raymond Chandler—cutting each typed page into three strips and requiring each strip to contain something delightful (startling simile, clever dialogue, brilliant description) offered to the reader as a recompense for a world that presses up against you all raw and aggressive and dangerous. A language that fully owns its power to capture just that "heart-wild magic."
Charles Frazier – New York Times Book Review

Sugar Run throttles…. The clip is fast and exciting.
Wall Street Journal

Caught in the divide between the haves and the have-nots, Jodi is a perfect illustration of the fallacy that good intentions and hard work reap success.… [S]he does the best she can, tugging her heartstrings tight around her substitute family of misfits, each one of them desperate to escape their messy past lives. But in her effort to save everyone else, she risks losing sight of herself.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Intriguing…lyrical…. Maren adroitly incorporates issues surrounding poverty in rural America into her narrative, including drug dealing and addiction; lack of jobs; fracking, which destroys communities and the land’s ecological health; and gun violence, which can change everything in a moment. Maren’s story is engaging and full of damaged and provocative characters who, like all of us, can be misled by our hearts.
Minneapolis Star-Tribune

A tense, atmospheric Southern noir spiked with queer themes, Sugar Run weaves between two timelines in its depiction of Jodi, a woman just finishing an 18-year prison sentence (The 50 Most Anticipated Books of 2019).
Entertainment Weekly

In Masha Maren's impressive debut, Jodi McCarty is released from prison after an 18-year sentence and is determined not to repeat past mistakes. While wandering around the South, she meets a young woman named Miranda, who has just left an abusive relationship. Together, they go looking for someone from Jodi's past and head to West Virginia—followed by the demons that haunt them both. This slow-burning novel asks if we can ever really escape the past and start over.

Maren’s impressive debut is replete with luminous prose that complements her cast of flawed characters.… Maren astutely captures Jodi’s desperation in trying to unite a family despite her past.
Publishers Weekly

(Starred Review) These are stories of violence and passion and squashed hope—at one point, Jodi says, "she'd laid the old pattern over her new life like the fragile tissue-paper outlines Effie had used to cut dresses"—and you will feel every word. A highly recommended debut. —Barbara Hoffert
Library Journal

Dread and a lush natural world infuse Maren's noir-tinged debut as she carefully relays soul-crushing realities and myths of poverty and privilege, luck and rehabilitation, and the human needs that can precede criminality through love-starved loner Jodi and her band of fellow hungry souls.

In Maren's darkly engrossing debut novel, two women yearning for freedom fall in love, but the secrets of the past and betrayals in the present threaten to crush them.… This impressive first novel combines beautifully crafted language and a steamy Southern noir plot to fine effect.
Kirkus Reviews

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