Mary Beth (Hillsborough NC)
Another beautiful coming-of-age story
"The Rapture of Canaan" is one of my favorite books, so I couldn't wait to read Reynolds' latest, which is the story of 18-year-old Kenny Lugo. As in her previous novels, Reynolds handles tough issues--sexual abuse, poverty, etc.--with sensitivity. Kenny is an engaging character, and her personal journey to find meaning in tragedy and face her demons is unforgettable.
Elyse (Creswell OR)
While I wouldn't put this book on my list of top best books I've read, I did enjoy it. It reminded me a lot of "Member of the Wedding" by Carson McCullers. The problem with that comparison is that I had no trouble believing the narrator in Wedding was 12 years old, whereas I had a hard time for much of this book remembering that this narrator was supposed to be 17.
Oh well. I finally found some justification for her naivety and other behaviors, and was then able to go on reading with no distractions. In all, I found it a good character study, with characters you want to know. It's a slim book, an easy read.
Darra (Walnut Creek CA)
A bit of a letdown...
I truly wanted to love this "coming-of-age-in-the-Tidewater" tale by bestselling author, Sheri Reynolds...but I didn't. I didn't "hate" it either: I simply found nothing that hasn't been done before, and done better.The plot seemed thin; the cast of characters largely unsympathetic; the voice and/or depth of Kenny, the almost 18-year-old narrator, surprisingly lacking (as opposed, say, to Scout Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird" or Frankie Adams in "The Member of the Wedding"); and the promised "unexpected" denouement a bit of a letdown.
This book won't put me off Reynolds for good--I enjoyed "The Rapture of Canaan"--but I hope she'll have more to offer next time.
Tina (Juneau AK)
Perhaps because I am a big fan of Sheri Reynolds, this book fell short for me for several reasons. First, the plot was way too loose (and I generally like books that are light on plot, heavy on character and description). Secondly, the main character's oddities become repetitive; after the first few examples, the reader gets it and wants more development. Thirdly, though this is also a strength of the book, some might find that some of the minor characters are forgiven too easily.
On the other hand, as far as coming of age stories go, this one is different. The main character is interesting and her attitude towards life could be considered inspiring. And the book is endearing in that many of its characters go out of their way to be kind and helpful. What I enjoyed most, though, were the outstanding qualities of hope and human warmth projected in the book.
I should add that Reynolds continued to delight me with her unique wording and descriptions.
This book is worth reading, but not as compelling as other books by Reynolds.
Laura (Atlanta GA)
Not So Sweet
I generally enjoy Sheri Reynolds, but The Sweet In Between will not be on my favorites list. This dysfunctional Southern family novel is long on dysfunction. Our heroines mother died of cancer, her father is in prison, and she has significant problems with OCD and sexual confusion; Dads girlfriend (with whom the heroine lives) is a drug and alcohol abuser with three kids of her own: a sex-obsessed older son, a skateboard-obsessed younger son, and a developmentally-delayed daughter. But why should we care? Theres not much action here; even a murder next door merely spawns more obsession and confusion. When someone does step in the help, the help comes from what the book jacket describes as a most unimaginable source translate that Where did these people come from? While the writing itself is good, and Reynolds is particularly skilled in the use of irony and a sort of black humor, this wasnt a book I enjoyed, and its not one Id recommend.
Eileen (Danvers MA)
Sheri Reynolds does not dissapoint
As a long time fan of this author I eagerly looked forward to reading "The Sweet In Between". The story and characters are endearing, and while this book does not have the depth of "The Rapture of Canaan", it is still a wonderful read. Anyone who has enjoyed Reynold's other books will enjoy this one as well. It, like all her books, paints a picture of adversity, struggle, and the peace that can come with acceptance. I love a book where you truly grow to care about the characters, and this is that kind of book.
E S (Rockville MD)
It can be quite painful to be in-between, as Alice in Wonderland and Kenny Lugo in this novel clearly show. Whether she is a girl growing too quickly to fit into a house, as Alice was, or a girl ace-bandaging her growing bustline--neither is comfortable in her own skin. Kenny is still a frightened girl, believing herself to be all alone; and her neurotic gender-confusion proves it! But is it really just she against the world, or does she have allies who can help her through it? The author, Sherrri Reynolds does a masterful job showing just how confusing growing up can be, and how a little help from friends and family, even though imperfect, can really make a difference. Great sense of place--small town in Tidewater Virginia; excellent depiction of flawed, realistic characters.