Posted in Book Review, Fiction

Book Review: My Sweet Vidalia by Deborah Mantella


On July 4, 1955, in rural Georgia, an act of violence threatens the life of Vidalia Lee Kandal’s pre-born daughter. Despite the direst of circumstances, the spirit of the lost child refuses to leave her ill-equipped young mother’s side.

For as long as she is needed―through troubled pregnancies, through poverty, through spousal abuse and agonizing betrayals―Cieli Mae, the determined spirit child, narrates their journey. Serving as a safe place and sounding board for Vidalia’s innermost thoughts and confusions, lending a strength to her momma’s emerging voice, Cieli Mae provides her own special brand of comfort and encouragement, all the while honoring the restrictions imposed by her otherworldly status.

Vidalia finds further support in such unlikely townsfolk and relations as Doc Feldman, Gamma Gert and her Wild Women of God, and, most particularly, in Ruby Pearl Banks, the kind, courageous church lady, who has suffered her own share of heartache in their small Southern town of yesteryear’s prejudices and presumptions.

My Sweet Vidalia is wise and witty, outstanding for its use of vibrant, poetic language and understated Southern dialect, as well as Mantella’s clear-eyed observations of race relations as human relations, a cast of unforgettable characters, an in-depth exploration of the ties that bind, and its creative perspective. My Sweet Vidalia is a rare, wonderful, and complex look at hope, strength, the unparalleled power of unconditional love, and a young mother’s refusal to give up.


The book revolves around Vidalia Kandal, who lives in the rural part of Georgia in 1955. She became pregnant at the age of seventeen and unfortunately has to drop out of high school and marry Jamerson Jackson. And due to an incident of domestic violence, she loses her baby.

This book is a journey of Vidalia along with the spirit of her first unborn child. Cieli Mae, the spirit of the child is the narrator of the story. Vidalia has absolutely no emotional support from her family, lives with her sons in absolute poverty and still manages to do everything she can for them. This journey of hers is heartbreaking and needless to say, touching.

The characters of the book were well developed and their emotional journey was portrayed very beautifully. You can easily connect with the characters and feel their emotions as if you know them personally.

This was my first historical fiction and I enjoyed my time with it. I would like to give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

PS- I received a copy of this book by the author in exchange of an honest review.


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