My Sweet Vidalia
My Sweet Vidalia: A Novel by Deborah Mantella is set in a place and time when people didn’t have a whole lot in life, and a little bit seemed like a whole lot. Vidalia Lee Kandal had her whole life ahead of her before meeting Jamerson Boothe (JB) Jackson. She fell head over heels for him, and before they knew it she was pregnant with their first child, they were getting married, and Vidalia’s dreams of school ended. JB’s mean streak was one to be reckoned with, and one terrible night his drunken tirade and beating of Vidalia ended their sweet baby girl’s life. However, that baby, named Cieli Mae, stayed with Vidalia in spirit through the good but mostly bad times of her life. Cieli Mae, who Vidalia spoke to often, was an anchor and source of strength. Through miscarriages, the births of babies, and the continued brutality of JB, Cieli Mae pushed Vidalia to be strong. Love is a powerful thing, especially when it is for someone else, but finding enough love for yourself can be hard. Everyone in her life knows what she needs to do, but will Vidalia find enough love for herself to leave before it is too late?
Deborah Mantella has delivered a beautifully written, heartbreaking novel about love, loss, strength, and hope. Her technique of using the spirit of Vidalia’s stillborn child while also continuing with dialogue between the other characters in the story allows the readers to see this tale from many sides and to truly feel the emotions of each chapter. Her characters are written so that you can’t help but love some and loathe others. My Sweet Vidalia: A Novel 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.
Turner Publishing Company, Nashville/NYC