Saturday, 17 September 2016

My Sweet Vidalia [Book Review]

Hello there!

Title: My Sweet Vidalia
Author: Deborah Mantella
Publisher: Turner Publishing
Published Date: 6th October 2015
Rating: 4 Stars

*Thank you to the author for the review copy*


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Synopsis: On July 4, 1955, in rural Georgia, an act of violence threatens the life of Vidalia Lee Kandal's pre-born daughter. Despite the direst of circumstances, the spirit of the lost child refuses to leave her ill-equipped young mother's side.

For as long as she is needed―through troubled pregnancies, through poverty, through spousal abuse and agonizing betrayals―Cieli Mae, the determined spirit child, narrates their journey. Serving as a safe place and sounding board for Vidalia's innermost thoughts and confusions, lending a strength to her momma's emerging voice, Cieli Mae provides her own special brand of comfort and encouragement, all the while honoring the restrictions imposed by her otherworldly status.

Vidalia finds further support in such unlikely townsfolk and relations as Doc Feldman, Gamma Gert and her Wild Women of God, and, most particularly, in Ruby Pearl Banks, the kind, courageous church lady, who has suffered her own share of heartache in their small Southern town of yesteryear's prejudices and presumptions.

My Sweet Vidalia is wise and witty, outstanding for its use of vibrant, poetic language and understated Southern dialect, as well as Mantella's clear-eyed observations of race relations as human relations, a cast of unforgettable characters, an in-depth exploration of the ties that bind, and its creative perspective. My Sweet Vidalia is a rare, wonderful, and complex look at hope, strength, the unparalleled power of unconditional love, and a young mother's refusal to give up.

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Review: My Sweet Vidalia was a pretty quick and heart breaking read. The book centers on Vidalia, who is married to JB. JB is not a nice person. He leaves his wife to rot and constantly abuses her, both physically and verbally. It broke my heart to read this book and see the way she was treated. What made it even worse was how sweet natured Vidalia herself was. And innocent. I don’t think a book has truly been able to show me the torn emotion between wanting to try and make an unhealthy marriage work out, and truly believing this is the norm for all marriages. This really opened my eyes to probably, how some women must really feel.


Not only does this book focus on Vidalia, but it does a wonderful job of portraying all the secondary characters in the novel. The author doesn’t leave a single one behind so that we soon get the insight into all of the secondary character’s backgrounds too. If they have encountered Vidalia in her history, we’re also shown their past time with the use of flashbacks. I loved the detail we got into all of the secondary characters, and the way they really made the story.

The most interesting secondary character of them all had to be Ruby. Ruby is a black woman who is in charge of her own home and garden. This is set in 1955, and crosses the time of the bombing of the church in which four little girls were killed in history. We also get to see a lot of Ruby’s life and history, especially towards the end of the novel. This allows the novel to touch upon the life of being black in America at the time, and the way they were treated. Again, this further broke my heart. Even though it isn’t the center of the story like Vidalia’s plot line was, it still emotionally caught me.


This is really a character driven novel as a lot of historical fiction tends to be, and I can’t stress that enough. If you’re looking for plot twists and action, you won’t find that here. But if you’re looking for a touching story about friends, family, and a journey into understanding what is good for you in life and the cost it might take you to get there, then this is the kind of novel for you.


Another aspect of this book that truly intrigued me was the point of view the novel was told from. Celia is an unborn child, and yet she is the one telling the story. In fact, she is an unborn child that is miscarried before she is able to come to life. Yet her ‘spirit,’ if I may call it that, watches over Vidalia – her mother – throughout the roughest period of her life. And therefore her voice is the one telling the story. I liked the unique point of view, and it never became too strange that I questioned the author’s choice or the story because of it. It simply fit perfectly. I liked it a lot.


All I can say is, that this book was really good. It’s emotional and beautifully written. It really does portray the message of the fact that in life, sometimes we deserve better than we are given. At times we can change this ourselves. At times we can’t. It’s so important to know the difference between the two.

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Gif Summary:

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Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

Olivia’s Question: What’s your favourite “baby” name?

Olivia-Savannah x 

25 comments:

  1. This reminds me a lot of The Help which I really enjoyed, it's definitely an eye-opening experience to hear about the 1950s and how different things were. Lovely review!

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

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    1. I actually read that recently too and would say that they are comparable!

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  2. It sounds so amazing and emotional! I need it! 😭😭😭
    Haniya
    booknauthors.blogspot.com

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  3. I love the idea of the story being told from a character that never actually lived! It sounds like such a touching and emotional read, not to mention that it includes subjects like abuse that aren't talked about a lot in books. I just might pick this one up. Awesome review!

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    1. It was a very unique viewpoint that worked wonderfully. And yes, it does handle some of those subjects. Go for it <3

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  4. This book sounds interesting. I love the emotional ride that you got...Thanks for putting it on my radar!

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    1. You'd like this one, Dinh! I hope you try it :3

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  5. Told in the POV of a miscarried child... I'm going to be honest and say that I find that more than a little creepy, but I'm glad you didn't find it that way.

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    1. It can be seen as creepy but Mantella does it in a way that doesn't make it seem so in the slightest!

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  6. Happy you loved all the emotion in this read.

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  7. Oh, wow. I don't know if I could handle seeing Vidallia being treated like that. My heart hurts just reading your review. :(

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  8. If I had a girl I would have named her Charlotte. But as life would have it, I have two lovely boys. =) This is such a powerful story for any parent. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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    1. Charlotte is such a sweet name. But being blessed with two boys is just as glorious too <3

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  9. Aw. That's really worth checking out then.

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  10. I love this genre, so of course I want to read this. I just love Southern historical stories in general, even though they make you sad. I love the name Paige for girls and Tristan for boys. Both of which I had the pleasure of naming my two cousins after. LOL! I've loved the name Tristan since I was 13 and Brad Pitt played Tristan Ludlow. My favorite historical adaptation ever!

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    1. Sorry, forgot to add "Tristan Ludlow in Legends of the Fall".

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    2. Then I really would recommend you pick this one up for sure, Lekeisha. Hehehe it's nice that your cousins have those names as well!

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  11. Oh wow this sounds so saaad D': I feel like I'd be crying the whole time while reading this! And the spirit part sounds a bit weird, but I'm glad it turned out great, it is very original too.

    Lipstick and Mocha

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    1. It definitely was sad... it broke my heart so much </3

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  12. This book sounds heartbreaking but yet something I would read. I think it is indeed interesting how an unborn child is the one narrating the story!
    Jade xo

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    1. I think you could like this one because you're someone who takes emotion well in a book!

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