“A beautifully written, complex story of motherhood, found family, grief, reinvention, and redemption. West captures the challenges of fleeing a difficult past and explores profound questions about racial justice in the Jim Crow South.”
— Alyssa Raymond, Copper Dog Books, Beverly, MA
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by Ms. Magazine, The Root, Popsugar, Bustle, and many more
"An utterly absorbing and dazzling novel about the stories we tell to stay alive and the secrets we keep to protect ourselves." -- Nancy Jooyoun Kim, New York Times Bestselling author of The Last Story of Mina Lee
In 1960s Memphis, a young mother finds refuge in a boardinghouse where family encompasses more than just blood and hidden truths can bury you or set you free.
Sara King has nothing, save for her secrets and the baby in her belly, as she boards the bus to Memphis, hoping to outrun her past in Chicago. She is welcomed with open arms by Mama Sugar, a kindly matriarch and owner of the popular boardinghouse The Scarlet Poplar.
Like many cities in early 1960s America, Memphis is still segregated, but change is in the air. News spreads of the Freedom Riders. Across the country, people like Martin Luther King Jr. are leading the fight for equal rights. Black literature and music provide the stories and soundtrack for these turbulent and hopeful times, and Sara finds herself drawn in by conversations of education, politics and a brighter tomorrow with Jonas, a local schoolteacher. Romance blooms between them, but secrets from Mama Sugar's past threaten their newfound happiness and lead Sara to make decisions that will reshape the rest of their lives.
With a charismatic cast of characters, The Two Lives of Sarais an emotional and unforgettable story of hope, the limitations of resilience and unexpected love.