This month for 10 to Try, I tackled Read a Debut. I chose Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile, a debut published in 2014 (also in eBook, large print, audiobook, and downloadable audiobook). We also have the first season of the TV show based on the book - and we have the author coming for a visit in just a couple of weeks!
Ever have that experience where a book sneaks up on you and then knocks you out with how awesome it is? That's how I felt about Queen Sugar. The story, about a woman who inherits a sugar cane plantation when her father dies and moves from LA to his childhood home in rural Louisiana to run the farm, is pretty compelling, but the characters and the wonderfully detailed setting are what make Queen Sugar shine (and probably what make it great TV - I haven't had a chance to watch the show yet!).
When Charley Bordelon and her daughter Micah move to Louisiana, they're re-introduced to a huge family: Charley's grandmother, a host of aunts and uncles, and her troubled half-brother and his six-year-old son. Every single character, from Charley to the farm manager who comes out of retirement to work with her, feels like a real person with their own strengths and flaws. Charley faces racism and sexism on top of the grueling work of keeping the farm running; her hurdles are depicted with enough nuance to make them feel heartbreakingly real. The details about sugar cane farming should be boring, but I found myself on the edge of my seat, hoping that Charley would get the tractor she needed. I loved Queen Sugar, and I can't wait to see what Baszile writes next. That's the joy of a great debut: you can follow an author through their career, get excited about upcoming projects, and watch their style evolve.
Discovering an author at the beginning of their career can be especially exciting, but finding a debut can be a little tricky. You can't just search the catalog for "debut novel." To help, we put together a list of some of our favorite debuts of 2017 so far. You can also get suggestions via BookMatch or the staff at your local library!