Book Review: The Two Lives of Sara

THE TWO LIVES OF SARA | Catherine Adel West
09.06.2022 | Park Row
Rating: 5/5 stars


Sara King has nothing, save for her secrets and the baby in her belly, as she boards the bus to Memphis, hoping to outrun her past in Chicago. She is welcomed with open arms by Mama Sugar, a kindly matriarch and owner of the popular boarding house The Scarlet Poplar. Like many cities in early 1960s America, Memphis is still segregated, but change is in the air. News spreads of the Freedom Riders. Across the country, people like Martin Luther King Jr. are leading the fight for equal rights. Black literature and music provide the stories and soundtrack for these turbulent and hopeful times, and Sara finds herself drawn in by conversations of education, politics and a brighter tomorrow with Jonas, a local school teacher. Romance blooms between them, but secrets from Mama Sugar’s past threaten their newfound happiness with Sara and Jonas soon caught in the crosshairs, leading Sara to make decisions that will reshape the rest of their lives.

If there is one author I can trust to bring out all the emotions in me while reading it’s Catherine Adel West. I first discovered West through her debut, Saving Ruby King, and knew I needed to read anything she published. Fast forward to The Two Lives of Sara and West is still breaking my heart with her poetic writing abilities. 

Walking into this story, I wasn’t sure where things were headed. It’s clear that Sara has a history she wants to keep hidden. Along with an outstanding cast of secondary characters, the reader slowly unpacks these secrets. Sara is a captivating main character with a complicated outlook on life, trust, and love. Her journey in navigating Memphis and her new community pulls the reader in and vividly paints a series of events that will fascinate, fill you with hope, and break your heart. 

I hardly ever cry while reading, but there are a handful of authors who can make that happen and West is one of them. The Two Lives of Sara is utterly brilliant and I encourage you to pick up a copy ASAP!

🎧: Highly recommend the audio version! The narrator is the perfect voice for Sara!

A huge thank you to HTP Books for my gifted copy!

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