Book Review: Sugar Town Queens by Malla Nunn

Published in Australia on the 3rd August, 2021 by Allen & Unwin.

Add Sugar Town Queens to your Goodreads TBR:

Purchase Links:


Angus & Robertson:


The Nile:

Amazon AU:

ISBN: 9781760526832

Genre: Young Adult, Teenage Fiction

Australian RRP: $19.99

Page Count: 312

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Sypnosis from Allen & Unwin

From the award-winning author of the CBCA shortlisted When the Ground is Hard, comes a stunning portrait of a family divided and an uplifting story of how friendship saves and heals.Fifteen-year-old Amandla’s mother has always been strange. For starters, she’s a white woman living in Sugar Town, one of South Africa’s infamous shanty towns. She won’t tell anyone, not even Amandla, about her past. And she has visions, including ones that promise the return of Amandla’s father as if he were a prince in a fairytale, but their hardscrabble life is no fairytale.

Amandla knows her father is long gone – since before Amandla was born – and she’s pretty sure he’s not a prince. He’s just another mystery and missing piece of her mother’s past, and one of the many reasons people in Sugar Town give them strange looks – that and the fact that Amandla is black and her mother is not.

Lately, her mother has been acting even more strangely, so when Amandla finds a mysterious address at the bottom of her mother’s purse along with a large amount of cash, she decides it’s finally time to get answers about her mother’s life. With her best friends by her side, Amandla is ready to take on the devil himself, and as she confronts devastating family secrets and pain that has lasted a generation, taking on the devil is exactly what she must do.

My Review:

I received a copy of Sugar Town Queens from Allen & Unwin in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.

Sugar Town Queens demands to be read and devoured! It is poignant and punchy, raw and completely quick paced! Its main character, Amandla, is one you instantly feel pain for, having constant whispers about her and her Mother, Annalisa. Amandla is often scored about, a mixed race child of a white woman and a black man, in a small town where everyone knows each other’s business and gossip is quickly spread! Amandla is so strong though, she definitely reads far older than her 15 years, given everything she’s has to go through!

Right from the get go, I was instantly swept up in Sugar Town Queens, intrigued by Annalisa’s supposed visions, where she thinks if Amandla abides by certain activities, her estranged Father will return! Sadly though, there’s no proof this will happen, as it’s revealed that Amandla has tried to do anything to appease her Mum and her visions, it’s just so poignant that Annalisa is so hopeful that these idiosyncrasies will work, you just can’t help but feel an ache for Amandla!

I love how much friendship is integral within Sugar Town Queens, with Lil Bit and Amandla at the helm! Lil Bit and Amandla (the rapid addition of Goodness (literally) was just a joy! But Amandla and Lil Bit, joined by their own private tragedies, as being seen as outcasts and scorned upon by some others within their small town, just had such an amazing friendship! (although it absolutely is worth noting that there are a lot of beautiful personalities with the Shanty Town!) Honestly, how life is depicted in this town really had me thinking about life in poorer communities, as Sugar Town is essentially seen as a slum! We read about how Amandla and Annalisa live in a tiny shack, with the bare minimum, yet, its when Amandla finds a wad of notes within her Mum’s handbag, once she’s determined to find out where she goes during her routine outings, that set the wheels in motion, as it were!

Not wanting to go too much into the nitty gritty of the plot of Sugar Town Queens too much, as I believe it’s best to go into it relatively blind (as I did, not knowing too much at all about the story prior to diving in), but what I didn’t expect was to be as impacted by the story and the characters as much as I was! All throughout the 312 pages, I felt completely immersed in Sugar Town Queens, feeling Amandla’s pain, her fury, throughout, Sugar Town Queens is an absolute must, must read!

Happy Reading,


About Malla Nunn (from Allen and Unwin):

Born and raised in Swaziland on the far edges of the British Empire, Malla Nunn attended a boarding school specially set up for ‘mixed race’ children. The students at the school spent their time learning the Bible, breaking the rules, and then lying about it. In common with most colonial institutions, stealing, fighting, and violence were common. It was in this charged atmosphere that Nunn developed a fascination with bad behaviour, risk and punishment.

After her family migrated to Australia to escape apartheid, Nunn graduated with a double degree in English and History and then earned a Master of Arts in Theater Studies from Villanova University. Faced with a life of chronic under-employment, she dabbled in acting and screenwriting. She wrote and directed three award-winning films, including Servant of the Ancestors, which won Best Documentary awards at film festivals in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Zanzibar, and was shown on national television in Australia. She married in a traditional Swazi ceremony. Her bride price was eighteen cows. She now lives and works in a weatherboard house with a tin roof and an olive tree in the garden in Sydney, Australia.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.