My Sweet Vidalia [Book Review]
July 4, 1955, in rural Georgia, an act of violence threatens the life of
Vidalia Lee Kandal’s pre-born daughter. Despite the direst of circumstances,
the spirit of the lost child refuses to leave her ill-equipped young mother’s
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
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.
heart breaking read. The book centers on Vidalia, who is married to JB. JB is
not a nice person. He leaves his wife to rot and constantly abuses her, both
physically and verbally. It broke my heart to read this book and see the way
she was treated. What made it even worse was how sweet natured Vidalia herself
was. And innocent. I don’t think a book has truly been able to show me the torn
emotion between wanting to try and make an unhealthy marriage work out, and
truly believing this is the norm for all marriages. This really opened my eyes
to probably, how some women must really feel.
wonderful job of portraying all the secondary characters in the novel. The
author doesn’t leave a single one behind so that we soon get the insight into
all of the secondary character’s backgrounds too. If they have encountered
Vidalia in her history, we’re also shown their past time with the use of
flashbacks. I loved the detail we got into all of the secondary characters, and
the way they really made the story.
to be Ruby. Ruby is a black woman who is in charge of her own home and garden.
This is set in 1955, and crosses the time of the bombing of the church in which
four little girls were killed in history. We also get to see a lot of Ruby’s
life and history, especially towards the end of the novel. This allows the
novel to touch upon the life of being black in America at the time, and the way
they were treated. Again, this further broke my heart. Even though it isn’t the
center of the story like Vidalia’s plot line was, it still emotionally caught
historical fiction tends to be, and I can’t stress that enough. If you’re
looking for plot twists and action, you won’t find that here. But if you’re
looking for a touching story about friends, family, and a journey into
understanding what is good for you in life and the cost it might take you to
get there, then this is the kind of novel for you.
the point of view the novel was told from. Celia is an unborn child, and yet
she is the one telling the story. In fact, she is an unborn child that is
miscarried before she is able to come to life. Yet her ‘spirit,’ if I may call
it that, watches over Vidalia – her mother – throughout the roughest period of
her life. And therefore her voice is the one telling the story. I liked the unique
point of view, and it never became too strange that I questioned the author’s
choice or the story because of it. It simply fit perfectly. I liked it a lot.
emotional and beautifully written. It really does portray the message of the
fact that in life, sometimes we deserve better than we are given. At times we
can change this ourselves. At times we can’t. It’s so important to know the
difference between the two.