Monday, October 31, 2022

Book Review: Sugar and Salt

By Melissa Amster

Jerome Sugar learned the art of baking in his grandma’s bakery, also called Sugar, on historic Perdita Street in San Francisco. He supplies baked goods to the Lost and Found Bookshop across the street

When the restaurant that shares his commercial kitchen loses its longtime tenant, a newcomer moves in: Margot Salton, a barbecue master from Texas.

Margot isn’t exactly on the run, but she needs a fresh start. She’s taken care of herself her whole life, pulling herself up by her fingernails to recover from trauma, and her dream has been to open a restaurant somewhere far, far from Texas. The shared kitchen with Jerome's Sugar bakery is the perfect setup: a state-of-the-art kitchen and a vibrant neighborhood popular with tourists and locals.

Margot instantly takes to Jerome’s mother, the lively, opinionated Ida. The older woman proves to be a good mentor, and Margot is drawn to Jerome. Despite their different backgrounds their attraction is powerful—even though Jerome worries that Margot will simply move on from him once she’s found some peace and stability. But just as she starts to relax into a happy new future, Margot’s past in Texas comes back to haunt her… (Synopsis courtesy of Amazon.)

This is my first time reading a novel by Susan Wiggs. She was recommended to me by The Booksage. I like her writing style enough to be interested in more of her novels in the future.

I read the majority of Sugar and Salt in one day. Once I got into the thick of it, it was impossible to put down! I just had to know what was going to happen for Margot. She faced so many challenges before coming out on top. A lot of this novel is highly relevant to current situations and very important for everyone to read! Some parts are hard to get through (I will put trigger warnings at the way bottom of this post), but it's worth your time to keep going. There's a lot of good stuff that outweighs the bad!

I had a couple of concerns, however. First off, I felt like Ida's story from the past took away from everything else that was going on. It was still interesting, but it didn't fit with the rest of the novel, other than to reveal a secret from her past. It just seemed like there was too much going on and she could have had her own book instead. Secondly, it felt like there was a chunk of time missing between the past and the present. The events of the past would have ended in 2008 but then she doesn't start her life in San Francisco until 2017. Maybe this was sorted out in the final print, but it threw me off while reading the advanced copy.

Overall, this was a really good story that definitely held my attention.

Movie casting suggestions:
Margot: Brianne Howey
Jerome: Colin Lawrence
Ida: Loretta Devine
Francis: Freddie Thorp
Teen Ida: China Anne McClain

Thanks to William Morrow for the book in exchange for an honest review.

More by Susan Wiggs:

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TW: rape, assault, violence


The Book Sage said...

You're going to love Susan's The Lost and Found Bookshop!

Susan Wiggs said...

Oh my gosh, thank you so much for reading it!