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Saturday, February 8, 2014

Shaking the Sugar Tree by Nick Wilgus



Wise-cracking Wiley Cantrell is loud and roaringly outrageous—and he needs to be to keep his deeply religious neighbors and family in the Deep South at bay. A failed writer on food stamps, Wiley works a minimum wage job and barely manages to keep himself and his deaf son, Noah, more than a stone’s throw away from Dumpster-diving.

Noah was a meth baby and has the birth defects to prove it. He sees how lonely his father is and tries to help him find a boyfriend while Wiley struggles to help Noah have a relationship with his incarcerated mother, who believes the best way to feed a child is with a slingshot. No wonder Noah becomes Wiley’s biggest supporter when Boston nurse Jackson Ledbetter walks past Wiley’s cash register and sets his sugar tree on fire.

Jackson falls like a wet mule wearing concrete boots for Wiley’s sense of humor. And while Wiley represents much of the best of the South, Jackson is hiding a secret that could threaten this new family in the making.

When North meets South, the cultural misunderstandings are many, but so are the laughs, and the tears, but, as they say down in Dixie, it’s all good.

This book gave me chills, I have never laughed or cried so much in one book.  Wiley and Noah have the best father & son releationship, its solid, its real.  This book is gritty, it embraces the insultment of gays in the south.  It gives a real and true love story, not with Wiley and Jackson, but with Wiley and Noah,  when true love is present it can never ever be broken.  From the insulting "Papaw" to the grand parents that Noah has never known, love that is the key to moving mountains.   I felt every emotion in this book,  this writer has taken me on a journey of love and handed me a gift in "Shaking the Sugar Tree".  One of the best books I have ever had the pleasure of reading.

"We'll find a boyfriend for you, don't worry" ~Noah Cantrell

Meet Noah,  he is 9 years old, he has blonde curly hair, and he is a "meth baby" and deaf.  Wiley has raised him as a single dad since the day he was born,  and they are poor.  As every single parent is faced with adverticies, so is Wiley;  it has not been easy but he is doing the best he can.
"Be good or I'll sell you on eBay" ~Wiley Cantrell

"The sleeves on Noah's coat are too short"~ Martha Cantrell
"I can't buy children's clothes with food stamps, can I?"~Wiley

When Wiley meets Jackson at the checkout of the local FoodWorld it was fate the north and the south collides.  Jackson Ledbetter is from Boston, a pediatric nurse that has moved to Mississippi to start over.  Wiley takes Jack on a journey of life in a small town,  a life that Jackdecides he wants to call his own, a family to call his own.

This story revolves around the homophobia that grips the deep south.  It's a story of life in poverty in the deep south.  A story of living without luxuries, without cable, without air conditioning and where a trip to McDonalds is for special occasions.  It's a story that is REAL, real emotions, real heartache, just real.  In a way that I have not experienced in a very long time.

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