Sugar Town Queens
Malla Nunn
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
ISBN: 9781760526832
Awards Year: 2022
Category: Book of the Year: Older Readers


Fifteen-year-old Amandla's mother has always been strange. For starters, she's a white woman living in Sugar Town, one of South Africa's infamous shanty towns. She won't tell anyone, not even Amandla, about her past. And she has visions, including ones that promise the return of Amandla's father as if he were a prince in a fairytale, but their hardscrabble life is no fairytale.

Amandla knows her father is long gone - since before Amandla was born - and she's pretty sure he's not a prince. He's just another mystery and missing piece of her mother's past, and one of the many reasons people in Sugar Town give them strange looks - that and the fact that Amandla is black and her mother is not.

Lately, her mother has been acting even more strangely, so when Amandla finds a mysterious address at the bottom of her mother's purse along with a large amount of cash, she decides it's finally time to get answers about her mother's life. With her best friends by her side, Amandla is ready to take on the devil himself, and as she confronts devastating family secrets and pain that has lasted a generation, taking on the devil is exactly what she must do.

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The CBCA judges say...

An engaging, well-written socio-economic/family drama, exploring racism, poverty and wealth in Durban, South Africa. Well-developed and authentic with tangible differences between the city and the township. The entire cast of characters felt nuanced, with their own stories happening, and were fleshed out and full of life, each with unique reactions to the drama and for the most part managed to avoid being stereotypes. The setting was rich and well described. Despite being a setting far removed from a typical Australian teen's experience, there were enough elements in the story to relate to, while simultaneously giving insight into another way of life. The story unfolds gently and is well-paced, maintaining tension. Each twist/dramatic event happening in a realistic manner, sparking emotion, drama, and humour, creating an entirely enjoyable read. An up-lifting story of 'Ubuntu', the Zulu idea of compassion and humanity.

Teaching Notes for this book...

The publisher has generously made teaching notes available for this book. Find them on their website below the blurb.



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