on November 30, 2010
I've read Kathryn Magendie's first two books and was so glad I did, but I was truly surprised she could write a third with such power! Sweetie made me laugh, sigh, and yes, cry a few times.
Read this moving (not sappy) story of the true meaning of friendship and true family, then buy a copy for your best friend. You'll be glad you did. The characters are real, but unique. The dialogue/dialect is absorbing, but not corny. The plot is mystical, but not unbelieveable.
Sweetie is one of the best five books I've read (and I've read a lot!) in my 51 years.
Bravo to Ms. Magendie. Cannot wait for the next book!!!!
on November 16, 2010
My taste in literature is pretty unsophisticated. I prefer sappy romances to the classics; formula fiction to literary fiction. Still, when asked to review Sweetie something about the description intrigued me:
About the book: Friendship. Courage. Hope.For shy, stuttering Melissa, the wild mountain girl named Sweetie is a symbol of pride and strength. But to many in their Appalachian town Sweetie is an outcast, a sinister influence, or worse. This poignant and haunting story takes readers deep inside the bittersweet heart of childhood loyalties.
My Comments: Kathryn Magendie can write! I loved her use of language and would periodically stop to read aloud so I could hear myself saying those beautiful words. I don't really think anyone would talk like that, but I could see an old woman in a rocking chair telling this story (the book is written in the first person) to her grandchildren. I'll admit I found the character of Sweetie somewhat unrealistic, but then I'm pretty sure I was supposed to find her unrealistic. As I said earlier, I tend toward the simple in my literary tastes and there are a lot of ways to interpret things in this book. Sweetie is a child of the mountains, who is uncomfortable around people, except around a few who are outcasts for various reasons. Is she real, did the story happen? I'm not sure.
I found Sweetie to be an engaging read, though it didn't provoke any emotional reaction from me, unlike many books with death scenes that have tears rolling down my cheeks. I recommend it to those who like literary fiction or Southern fiction. I think it would make a good book club selection, even though it doesn't come with handy discussion questions at the back--but I think folks could find plenty to discuss without stilted questions that pretend a work is greater than what it really is. At 200 pages it is not work that will bog you down for days. Grade: A-
Sigh. I'm such a sucker for a friendship story. Especially if it's a women friendship story. Why? Because so many books of what's called "women fiction" most often than not feature broken friendships or a friendship where one of the women is a harpy and the other one is sooo perfect. So I tend to yearn for a good women friendship story. Was Sweetie a good one? No. It was an abso-friggin-lutely fantastic one!
First off, the writing in Sweetie was so beautiful. Her use of language was just tremendous. Her words were filled with wonderful imagery, her sentences were pure lyricism. I'm not one of those people who can enjoy a book purely for wonderful writing. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy beautiful writing when it comes up, but I need to be interested in the plot first. Then, I notice the wonders that some authors can do with seemingly ordinary words.
The characters in Sweetie were so great. I loved Melissa and could completely relate to her (as a former shy girl or maybe not so former). I wanted nothing more than to see her break out of her shell and to tell all of her idiot classmates to stuff it. She literally broke my heart because all she wanted was to feel loved and appreciated. But Sweetie was the real hero of this story. She was just so captivating and so out there. I cheered for a true original. In fact, she sort of reminded me of the Potato Girl from Promise Not to Tell (another fantastic book about another true original). I just loved all the complexities each of the girl had and their dynamic with their own family. And their friendship was just so beautiful.
So, I highly recommend Sweetie. It was a sweet, enchanting, captivating novel. It did make me tear up a bit at how great Sweetie and Melissa's friendship was, so it is a bit of a tearjerker. However, it is a great coming of age story and an amazing friendship story. Definitely pick it up. (And yay! for one of my better Early Reviewer Reads)
on November 10, 2010
Five stars. FIVE STARS to this book. I'm out of breath from being totally blown away by this beautiful coming-of-age story. Parts of this book reminded me of an old favorite book, The Shepherd of the Hills by Harold Bell Wright. Kathryn Magendie has captured some magic in her descriptions of the Smoky Mountains and has created a character in Sweetie that will live on in my memory.
Sweetie is the story of two very different girls, friends thrown together through cruel acts at school - one strong and the other tender. They spend a school year together, growing up, changing and learning from one another. I felt Melissa's struggle and her pain while dealing with the bullies at school, her escape to food and her need to be loved by someone - and I felt captured by the entrance of "Sweetie" - her stories, her treatment of "Miss Lissa" and the adventures she drags Melissa on.
I had a sneaking suspicion after reading the first chapter that I would like this book, but I did not expect it to flat out floor me. The development of the story, the characters, the way Magendie manipulates her readers emotions threw me for a loop and had me laughing and crying .. sometimes loudly. This is the perfect book for you folks who love a good coming-of-age story with a touch of magic in it. I cannot wait to get my greedy hands on a physical copy as soon as I can (as I received this via Netgalley).
on June 3, 2011
Reviewing the Kindle Edition free download.
I am new to reading Kathryn Magendie and took a chance on 'Sweetie' because it was a free download with an intriguing description, in fact one of the first books I downloaded when I got my Kindle. By now I've learned to expect some excellent works by new authors among the free downloads, so I was expecting a good read, but even so, I was really delighted with the literary quality of this book.
Magendie has written a very layered and complex story about two young teen girls who become close friends, 'blood sisters', over the course of a school year. Melissa is a privileged girl with intellectual parents, intelligence and a good education and many advantages who is a social failure. Sweetie is dirt-poor, educated in mountain superstitions, yet self-possessed and sure of what she knows. Despite their social differences and experiences in life, there are some underlying similarities that form an interweaving foundation for friendship. Each girl has a physical issue that sets her apart from the popular crowd, each girl has a difficult situation with her mother, and in their own ways, their fathers are both emotionally absent from their lives. The author layers some striking differences over these common characteristics to create a dynamic of two very different personalities finding support and friendship.
This is not a light-hearted coming of age story, however. The author delves beyond the girls' superficial friendship to find the places where the two friends are very uneven in their sense of friendship, where giving and taking is not always fair, where commitment is not as freely given as received. Much of the energy of this story comes not from the actions that take place but from the emotional connections and the inner landscape of the country the girls create from their friendship. As the story concludes, not everything is explained, some things are left open to consideration and reflection.
One thing I enjoyed about this book is the way in which the author describes things that 'might' be magical or supernatural, but she does not explain them. She employs them from the viewpoint of Sweetie who believes in them, but let's us draw our own conclusions about their nature. She also allows for some ambiguity in the girls' mental and emotional states, some inexplicable motivations and thoughts that lend a special kind of gentle tugging back and forth to their relationship. This made the girls seem more like real people because in real life people are not defined by their relationships, their relationships are defined by the people in them, and therefore things are subject to change without notice, as happens in this story.
Magendie took exactly the right tone and the right approach in this story, to allow the complexities of the girls themselves to form the structure, and the events to provide them with opportunities. It is a story that can be enjoyed on several levels and will certainly leave the reader with some interesting questions. It can be read by teens as an appropriate coming-of-age novel, but I think that adults will find it equally satisfying and a bit challenging.
on March 21, 2011
Coming-of-age novels are certainly nothing new, but Sweetie is that and so much more. The book starts right off with an adult narrator (Lissa) recalling her first meeting with Sweetie. I immediately fell in love with the wild mountain girl and unrepentant outsider in the character of Sweetie. In spite of the gender difference, I also came to identify with, and grew to love, thirteen-year-old Lissa; so many of us felt awkward and unattractive at this, or some, early stage of life.
Lissa joins Sweetie as an outsider just as summer vacation arrives. The novel really takes off as the pair explores their budding friendship, each seeing a new world through the other's eyes. Life lessons abound for Lissa, and the girls' relationship deepens to a bound-sisterhood. Magendie is spot-on in rendering the process of finding something outside ourselves, something bigger: connection to place, separation from parental protectiveness, and our own private spirituality.
Sweetie carried me along at a fervent pace. Magendie deftly wields a number of literary devices: Lissa's stammering, Sweetie's inability to feel physical pain, both girls' complicated parental relationships, and more; all tightly woven to create a powerful payoff. Suffice to say I was more than entertained. I was: swept away, made to reminisce, cracked-up, teary-eyed, stimulated to a racing pulse, but mostly just profoundly moved.
Magendie's masterful use of language and setting, the intimacy of the story, and the balanced and brisk pace all contribute to her wonderful achievement. It's a tale that transcends age and gender.
on December 23, 2011
This book was fantastic. A very sweet and well written story about friendship and family. The book draws you in from the beginning and the characters are captivating. I would definitely recommend this book!
on October 30, 2015
What starts out as two girls meeting as one holds a baby bird, fallen from its nest, and asks the other if she'd like to watch her put it back in that nest so its mother can care for it turns into a friendship of undeniable strength and durability, and a lesson that things should be where they should be. It's about love and loss and joy and respect, about growing to know which things really matter. And it's an emotional journey for the reader, one I highly recommend.
I'd hardly gotten through three paragraphs and I was hooked. I felt that Kathryn Magendie wasn't just talking about Sweetie or Melissa or any of the peripheral characters here..... No, she was talking about me, about every girl who'd ever felt she was the one outside that window and wanting to belong inside, to belong Somewhere and not be expected to fit into someone else's ideals or mold. To have a real friend, to know the power of that special kinship, to have that one person to whom you could express anything. And she was talking about the reverence of life, of the respect for Nature and of coming of age in the most basic and important sense of spirit at the most innate levels, places many of us fear to look for within ourselves for fear of finding them lacking.
Kathryn Magendie's writing strikes those chords in the heartstrings that catch the senses, over and over. As I read, I was so drawn in I could almost hear the sounds of the forest creatures, the wind in the leaves, the soft tread of a bare foot in the woods, and the laughter and the tears. And every nuance rang true.
For those reviewers who suggested the author "chopped things up" and threw an ending onto the story in a haphazard way, I respectfully disagree. The author was concise in letting us know that the reader's sense of the deteriorating relationships outside the friendship of Melissa and Sweetie was not imagined... and that, too, is something to be learned from.
I could not stop reading, even when I had to grab a tissue to wipe my teary eyes.... I did not want to miss a word. And you won't, either.
on March 14, 2014
I don't review fiction on here unless I have something different to say from the hundreds of other reviewers... and few people even mentioned its value as a modern coming of age story for an adult audience. (read: this is not YA fiction)
Sweetie is a very poignant portrayal of that kind of friendship you only really experience as a young girl somewhere in the ballpark of 12-13. You know, back when your Best Friend Forever was the most important person in your life, the only person you didn't have to keep secrets from, and you loved her like a sister but better ...until one of you "matured" and the friendship got trampled under fantasies about kissing so-and-so.
I found myself alternately cheering for Melissa and wanting to smack her upside the head as she traversed a subtle smattering of side plots dealing with her coming of age, her struggles to fit in, and the brutal honesty with which she struggled to reach a suitable compromise between growing into herself as an individual and remaining a faithful friend to Sweetie, who had absolutely no desire to "become a woman." And you really can't blame her; who'd trade the kind of freedom she has for wearing uncomfortable clothes to be "pretty" for some guy and bleeding out of places you'd rather not mention? There was nothing contrived about this story; it was all raw and real. It can evoke a lot of fond memories, if you grew up in a place that had woods to run around in when you had nothing better to do.
The author has a remarkable way of communicating volumes with as few words as possible; you were able to tell how strained Melissa's parents' marriage was just from the way her aspiring-writer father talked about his plot bunnies.
Some reviewers commented that Sweetie's "magic" wasn't believable, but I didn't find that to be the case. Her "magic" wasn't magic at all--she made Cunning Woman type herbal drinks to heal ailments, and had that neurological disorder where your brain doesn't register physical pain. (look it up, it's a real thing). Furthermore, Sweetie's "magic" was not nearly as important to the plot as Melissa's romanticized "magical" ideal of Sweetie. Sweetie propelled herself into Melissa's life as the catalyst Melissa needed to become the confident, assertive young woman she spent most of her life wanting to be.
I loved this book. Highly recommend. Who knows, it might give you a new perspective on your own childhood friendships.
on February 28, 2011
Sweetie is not a book you can judge by its cover because 'Sweetie' is the name of a young girl in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. The story feels like it is set in the last 60's or early 70's, and it is a coming-of-age tale between Melissa and her only friend Sweetie.
As a guy, I didn't mind the female perspective of the story, even though it dealt with some issues I never experienced and can never truly understand. I really liked the bond developed between the two girl...moreSweetie is not a book you can judge by its cover because 'Sweetie' is the name of a young girl in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. The story feels like it is set in the last 60's or early 70's, and it is a coming-of-age tale between Melissa and her only friend Sweetie.
As a guy, I didn't mind the female perspective of the story, even though it dealt with some issues I never experienced and can never truly understand. I really liked the bond developed between the two girls and how each of them wore off on the other. I also liked the themes dealt with in the book including friendship, death, and bullying.