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Sweet Like Sugar Paperback – August 30, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington; 1 Original edition (August 30, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 075826562X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758265623
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,060,547 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I finished reading this book within two days.
Jonathan
The story surprised me with how touching and beautiful it was.
Sean Lev-Tov
We read this in our book club and had a wonderful discussion.
C. O. Kutler

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bob Lind on September 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
Benjamin Steiner grew up in a traditional (though just "almost Kosher") Jewish home in the DC suburbs. Now in his mid 20's, and openly gay, he feels disconnected from his family, his religion and - to some extent - his life, as he struggles to get his graphic design business going while placating his parents with participation in the Passover Seder.

A man comes into his life, but not exactly what Benjamin had been hoping for. Benjamin becomes a helper and listening ear to an 80-year old widowed Orthodox rabbi who lives near his office, a relationship that his family and friends don't understand, but seems to fill a need on some level. They become a teacher to each other, as the rabbi helps the young man understand Judaism as a way of life rather than just a religion. Benjamin tries to help the stubborn rabbi adapt to a more relaxed approach to traditional teachings, including reconciliation with a person from his past, and a revelation that a gay person can still be a good Jewish man.

Though I'm not Jewish, the book resonated with me on many levels, in the way that gays and lesbians try to reconcile their childhood experiences and lessons with the life we find available to us. The author treats a sensitive, relatable subject with intelligence, realistic emotion and a positive outlook toward what we can accomplish. Well written and much recommended, five stars out of five.

- Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Gilbert Cole on September 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
Hoffman's second novel is a beautiful achievement. Deeply felt, written in muscular and lucid prose, it defies easy categorization. The two protagonists are at terribly different stages of their lives but each working on the problem of being part of a loving couple: one, a 27 year old gay man is struggling to- even wondering if he can- establish a relationship that can last, the other, an orthodox Rabbi in his 80's who has lost his wife of many years and is not sure he wishes to- or can- emerge from his grief. This unlikely pair becomes another loving couple. The depth of their relationship surprises. The ways that each finds in the other things that attract and repel is told unflinchingly. Each finds that what the other sees in himself is something that he may not have expected to find. Each is surprised by how they are changed by this unexpected relationship.

One of the more refreshing features of Hoffman's book is his treatment of what can so easily be termed "spirituality"- a term that has so readily been cheapened. In Hoffman's world spirituality is earned. It is never cheap, there is no guidebook to find it, and it requires questioning what one has always thought one knew about oneself. Hoffman's sophisticated point of view about anyone's spirituality allowed this reader to feel his own private surprise. That surprise continues to resonate. This is a powerful, quiet, beautiful book that lasts.

Gilbert Cole, Ph.D, L.C.S.W.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By JACK on January 6, 2013
Format: Paperback
I cannot remember how Wayne Hoffman's novel "Sweet Like Sugar" wound up on my reading list, but I am glad it did. In my experience, most "gay" fiction is dismal and desperate in its frenetic depictions of a gay man's worth being only as good as his most recent hook-up with a "hot" man; or the gay man's frustrated, perennially solitary existence as the sidekick of a straight woman. "Sweet Like Sugar" however, has allowed me to encounter a "gay" novel that transcends the often bleak presumptions of the gay fiction genre. For example: "What does cheesecake have to do with Shavuot?" Hoffman has Benji ask, but leaves the question unanswered. This Gentile reviewer eagerly consulted Google to find out.

The greater allure of the narrative is in what it doesn't portray. The main character, Benji, is an attractive 27-year-old gay man who frequents Dupont Circle gay bars, who attends the White Party (where easy sex and drugs and techno music abound), and seems to no trouble attracting the "hot" men. Yet Hoffman eloquently manages to imply Benji has a sex life without feeling the need graphically to detail it.

Now for the incredible bits: that two healthy, sexually-active Jewish gay men (Benji and his "bashert" Jamie) would spend an evening making Jewish cookies; that Benji and Jamie would seem to have their most intimate discussions not about the hot sex or the love that may be growing between them, but about the their respective quest for deeper knowledge of their respective Jewish roots. That Benji and Jamie, two gay men, possibly at the peak of their sexual attractiveness and activity, engage in intellectual religious discussion seems unreal -- possible, I guess -- but unreal.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By reelwell on November 9, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
it's nice to see a good, young person striving to be a better person. the writing was clear, the issues were complex, and the lessons important. this could be a very important book to young people, especially if they are gay, trying to navigate the complexities of the modern world while trying to remain true to themselves.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jeri B. Zeder on September 6, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Novelist Wayne Hoffman creates two unique, fully formed individuals--a young gay, secular Jewish man and an elderly, Orthodox Jewish rabbi--supports them with a cast of additional quirky characters, and spuns a compelling tale that thoroughly explores the theme of belonging: How do we signal to others where we belong, and whom we belong to? How does our need to belong paradoxically cause us to exclude, dismiss, and overlook each other? To delude ourselves? How we can grow and become enriched when we open our hearts and free ourselves of superficial constructs of "belonging." How much courage it sometimes takes to reveal ourselves because we risk losing the people and communities we desperately want to be part of. You don't have to be Jewish or gay to appreciate the universality of these themes. Lots of great ideas to ponder alone or in a book group discussion.
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