My Sweet Vidalia
On July 4, 1955, in rural Georgia, an act of violence threatens the life of Vidalia Lee Kandal Jackson'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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"My Sweet Vidalia is a five-star novel that will pull at your heartstrings from the very first page until the last. Definitely a book to put at the top of your list of must-reads. "--San Francisco Book Review
"It is this unorthodox and refreshing choice of narrator that sets this novel apart."--Manhattan Book Review
"An engaging story of overcoming terrible circumstances with temerity and grace." --Kirkus Reviews
"Simultaneously shines a light on the unbreakable human spirit and the power of a mother's love." --Buckhaven Lifestyle magazine
"Marvelous yet melancholy ...The whole book is lovely and a testament to the human spirit."--Historical Novel Society
"MY SWEET VIDALIA, has the most unique point-of-view since Death narrated The Book Thief."--Foxtale Book Shoppe
A touching story about friends, family, and a journey into understanding what is good for you... --Olivia's Catastrophe
"It's written in the tone of a surprising kind of joy." --Reading Reality
"My Sweet Vidalia, is a magical and gut-wrenching tale of a blossoming steel magnolia and the old infant soul who shepherds - and goads - her mama's emergence."--South Main Muse
"Mantella's prose is gorgeous. Her sentences sing. With beautiful artistry she weaves a tale both heartbreaking and thought-provoking, culminating in an exciting, satisfying conclusion and an epilogue that left me in tears. This stirring novel about the transcendent bond between a mother and her daughter is not to be missed."--The Finer Things