Thursday 19 December 2013

The Sweetest Hallelujah by Elaine Hussey

Source: An ARC was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review


An unforgettable story of two courageous women brought together by one extraordinary little girl.

Betty Jewel Hughes was once the hottest black jazz singer in Memphis. But when she finds herself pregnant and alone, she gives up her dream of being a star to raise her beautiful daughter, Billie, in Shakerag, Mississippi. Now, ten years later, in 1955, Betty Jewel is dying of cancer and looking for someone to care for Billie when she's gone. With no one she can count on, Betty Jewel does the unthinkable: she takes out a want ad seeking a loving mother for her daughter.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, recently widowed Cassie Malone is an outspoken housewife insulated by her wealth and privileged white society. Working part-time at a newspaper, she is drawn to Betty Jewel through her mysterious ad. With racial tension in the South brewing, the women forge a bond as deep as it is forbidden. But neither woman could have imagined the gifts they would find in each other, and in the sweet young girl they both love with all their hearts. Deeply moving and richly evocative, The Sweetest Hallelujah is a remarkable tale about finding hope in a time of turmoil, and about the transcendent and transformative power of friendship.


I read this book a couple months ago, and it has stayed with me ever since, the writing was brilliant, and the story was even better. The characters were so colourful and charismatic, I loved them all! I requested this book just based on the synopsis, and I was so happy when I finished it, I felt privileged to have read this story.

The racism is something that runs throughout this novel, and it is something that I can see happening in that time period for sure (1955). I can also imagine that there were a lot of people in the same situation as Betty Jewel and Cassie where they want or need help and that this factor stood in their way, and I am glad that they did not let it stop them from being there for Billie. 

Billie is growing up in a house with her Mom and her Grandmother, and is aware that her Mom is sick, however, I don't think that she had ever thought about what would happen to her when her Mom passed away, and when her Grandmother is gone. She has been brought up with strict rules, and she is to follow them, or she has to deal with her Grandmother, and that is not a good situation! I think that her Grandmother is probably my favourite character in the book, I just loved her.

I also loved how even though it seemed like everyone in Cassie's life was telling her to back off with helping Betty Jewel and Billie, she stayed true to herself and continued on what she was doing. She had a stubborn streak and would not let anything take her away from wanting to help.

If you are looking for a truly engrossing story that brings you back to the 50's, and is based around family and the power of friendship, this is the book for you, I promise you will not be disappointed! This book gets a perfect 5/5 from me!

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