The Two Lives of Sara

A Novel

by Catherine Adel West

On Sale: 09/06/2022

The Two Lives of Sara

Enlarge Book Cover

The Two Lives of Sara

A Novel

by Catherine Adel West

On Sale: 09/06/2022


About the Book

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 Sara is an emotional and unforgettable story of hope, the limitations of resilience and unexpected love.

Critical Praise

“Focusing on the interplay between generations as she did in her debut (Saving Ruby King) West writes with charming precision and intention. Every character is a beautiful, relatable complication. Both masterfully suspenseful and certain to tug at the reader's heartstrings, The Two Lives of Sara solidifies West as a literary force.” Booklist, Starred Review

“In this utterly absorbing and dazzling novel about the stories we tell to stay alive and the secrets we keep to protect ourselves, Catherine Adel West explores the intricacies of family and community as well as the realities of migration, reinvention, and loss. The Two Lives of Sara also celebrates everyday forms of resistance in a racist and divided country and the balm that love, food, and art can still provide. I couldn’t put this exquisite book down.” —Nancy Jooyoun Kim, New York Times Bestselling author of The Last Story of Mina Lee

“This heartfelt novel about a survivor trying to build a new life among a found family cuts deep. Catherine Adel West has woven a rich story filled with warmth, faith, and hope while also incisively exploring the limits of resilience.” —Maisy Card, author of These Ghosts are Family

“I'm in awe of Catherine Adel West's storytelling and her ability to capture the reader's attention from the first page. She magically delves into the many facets of family, friendship and community. The Two Lives of Sara is a wondrous journey that combines everything I adore in a story—resilient Black women, hope, and love!” —Jamise Harper, co-author of Bibliophile: Diverse Spines and founder of the Diverse Spines book community

"A heartfelt story of family, community, and the secrets that won't turn us loose. Through complex characters, exquisite detail, and rich language, West explores the impossible choices we make to protect those we love. A stunning journey of a mother's love and sacrifice." —Nancy Johnson, author of The Kindest Lie

"The Two Lives of Sara completely took my breath away. Catherine Adel West’s masterful way with words is vibrant, gut-wrenching, and hauntingly beautiful. Sara’s story brought tears to my eyes and will be one that I will continue to revisit for years to come." —Taj McCoy, author of Savvy Sheldon Feels Good As Hell

“Catherine Adel West’s beautiful writing is truly a gift — a poetic treasure that engages the heart and the mind.” —Wanda M. Morris, Lefty award-winning author of All Her Little Secrets

“A gripping reflection on our need to be loved and our fear of rejection, Catherine Adel West crafts a timeless and complex narrative of family, loss, and what it means to lose faith in religion and ourselves. Sara King and the family she finds at the Scarlet Poplar will stay with you long after the final page.” —Lane Clarke, author of Love Times Infinity

"The Two Lives of Sara is a stellar follow-up for Catherine Adel West. The relationships surrounding Sara King are nuanced, complex, and full of small moments that stick with you long after you are done. West has a direct and precise prose that goes straight to the heart of the characters, the story, and the reader." —Morg Rogers, author of Honey Girl

“West has written a book that seems made to be filmed: Weighty conversations about living with segregation and trying to survive despite all the difficulties drive the story. A raw look at life for a Black woman in the segregated South.” Kirkus Reviews -

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780778333227
  • ISBN 10: 0778333221
  • Imprint: Park Row
  • On Sale: 09/06/2022
  • Pages: 320
  • List Price:34.99 CAD
  • BISAC1 : FICTION / African American / Historical
  • BISAC2 : FICTION / Southern
  • BISAC3 : FICTION / Literary
  • BISAC4 : FICTION / Family Life

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