Sugar Town Queens is a heartfelt tribute to family dynamics and the different forms love takes. Despite her mother’s outlandish visions and depression spells driven by forgotten past traumas, Amandla loves her mother. Amandla takes on a role of supporting her mother as the need arises, making meals, cleaning house, and playing along with her often embarrassing ideas to keep her from descending into darkness. As Amandla learns more about her mother’s past, she stands by her side and never blames her for their current lifestyle or her mental health issues. While it is not an ideal situation to have a child taking care of a parent at such a young age, I really appreciate how much Amandla’s mother also shows up for her daughter as best she can when the moment calls for it. They clearly have an unconditional love for each other that stands through every hardship. This kind of deep love is a rare find in many stories and I’m happy to have encountered it.
Of course, there are also plenty of other important relationships developed throughout the novel. Amandla has a strong bond with her best friend, Lil Bit, but otherwise doesn’t really have friends. However, both girls make new friends in unexpected places over the course of a couple weeks, showing how amazing it can be to open up to other people in your extended communities. Amandla also gets an opportunity to get to know some extended family for the first time and has to deal with the stigma of being the odd one out in terms of race and socioeconomic status. She has to determine if she can forgive past wrongs and if making these new relationships work is worth all the potential heartbreak.
I love how many wonderful women star in this story and I loved watching them interact and grow.