book cover of The Two Lives of Sara
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The Two Lives of Sara

A novel by

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.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"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

"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

"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

"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

"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

"Catherine Adel West's beautiful writing is truly a gift -- a poetic treasure that engages the heart and the mind." - Wanda M Morris

"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." - Morgan Rogers

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