Cover Image: Filthy Sugar

Filthy Sugar

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Member Reviews

I wish I'd loved this book, but sadly I was mostly bored throughout. The main character is sassy and funny, but very self-centered, difficult to like 😅

PROs :
- Glossary of 1930s slang words
- Entertaining, quick read (loved the burlesque part)
- Refreshing to read about the "debauchery" of the 1930s lower class
- Curvy main character 
- F/F romantic interest

CONs :
- Lots of (equally as disgusting) manly characters, so you can't really differentiate one from the next
- The way it's written, I can't tell if the main character is just naive or if she knew exactly what she is getting into (also the tone adopted by the audiobook's narrator really didn't help)
- Told from the main character's point of view, but no insight about her personal thoughts and motives (so you never really get to "know" her)
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I'm rating this two stars instead of one star because I acknowledge that this book might be right for some people. But just know that in my heart, personally, it is a one star book.

I just straight up did not enjoy this book. I was really looking forward to it - the last time I read a historical fiction set in the great depression was when I read the Kit Kitteridge books, and I was really excited to see something in this time period. And the description implied that there might be a bit of a sapphic romance, and I'm always looking for more sapphic historical fiction.

But I just couldn't get into it. Our main character, Wanda, was exceedingly stupid. Stupid and naive. And I never knew what she wanted. In acting one of the most important things you need to identify is what your character wants, and what they're willing to do to get it. And Wanda was willing to do all sorts of things, but I really just couldn't figure out what she wanted. To escape poverty? To have lots of sex? To marry Mr. what's-his-name? To have sex with what's-his-name? I have no idea! And I could maybe take stupid and annoying if she wasn't totally directionless as a character. There was just nothing interesting about her.

There wasn't really much interesting about any of the other characters either. I would say her mom and her sister were the only characters I thought were interesting. The rest were just whatever. Every man in the book was gross, and I guess that was probably a point the author was trying to make, but it certainly did not make reading the book enjoyable at all.

While there was a bit of sapphic themes, I couldn't actually call it romance. There was sapphic lust, and sex, but I really didn't get any romance. Which also would have been fine! Except I didn't really feel like the author did a good job of exploring those themes.

Plus, all in all, there was just waaaay too much sex in this book than I was interested in reading. Like, way too much.

Like I said, I acknowledge that the right person might enjoy this, but I am not that person.
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When other reviewers called Filthy Sugar "snappy" and "fast," I didn't think they meant inauthentic. While asking for nuance is perhaps unrealistic for every piece of literature, to write a piece of historical fiction set in the 1930s without it feels dishonest. In the novel it's the 1930's, the peak of The Great Depression, and what we read during our journey with Wanda is a sexy rags-to-riches narrative. While this may be fine for plenty of readers, I felt myself wishing for a deeper message than "sex sells" during my time with the plotline.

Very rarely do I ever feel as though the narrator in an audiobook hinders the learning experience. The book's writing already tries to hard to sound authentic, including popular catchphrases and lingo in nearly every line of dialogue. The narrator's sassy delivery, complete with a 20th century New York accent, comes across as jarring rather than immersive. The audiobook heightens the feeling that Filthy Sugar tells a caricature of the 1930s, rather than a true historical fiction piece.

It's not all terrible in Filthy Sugar. Heather Babcock manages to create an environment which is fun and jazzy. It's easy to lose yourself in the surface level quality of the story--it's great brainless fun for drives home from the office. So long as no one's expecting a deeper message or realistic historical elements, this book should still be able to please.
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The book was a little slow so I got impatient and dnf'd it. It is great to see the main character be black and Queer+ (we need more Intersectionality) but it's not my cup of tea.
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This story takes the reader on a journey for sure. I listened to the audiobook. The narrator is fabulous. The main character doesn't always make the best decisions but it could be because she's chasing a more lucrative life. I was amazed at the lengths she would go in order to achieve success in her eyes. Her desire to escape poverty seemed to be her driving force. 
I just reviewed Filthy Sugar by Heather Babcock. #FilthySugar #NetGalley
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