River Reads: One Book, One Ouachita is a program by the Ouachita Parish Public Library (OPPL) that is meant to foster a shared reading experience across the parish. Each year, the library selects one novel for the community to read together, and the title for 2020 is Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile.
Set in contemporary Louisiana, Queen Sugar tells the story of an African American single mother, Charley Bordelon, who leaves the city life in Los Angeles after inheriting a large sugarcane plantation in the countryside. As she prepares for a new way of life and grinding season just around the corner, Charley must learn how to balance new and old personal, romantic, and professional relationships.
Recently, the novel has achieved acclaim after being adapted to television by writer and director Ava Duvernay and co-produced by Oprah Winfrey for her TV network OWN. Queen Sugar was also nominated for the NAACP Image Award among other accolades.
Danielle Tolbird, communications coordinator for OPPL, has already read the book and understands the hype. She says, "You have these very vivid characters that really pop off the page and how they all interact with each other is very realistic. I think that everybody should read this book and would enjoy it."
The OPPL libraries will offer Queen Sugar for check out across the parish in regular print, large print, e-book, e-audiobook, and book-on-CD. The branches will also host a total of 10-Queen Sugar inspired events, culminating in two presentations led by the author herself on April 23.
A list of events at each branch can be found below:
- Mar. 5, 11 a.m., Louise Williams, Women in Agriculture: Pecan Farmer Caitlyn Milam
- Mar. 5, 12:30 p.m., Sterlington, LSU Ag Center: Cooking with LA Cane Sugar
- Mar. 5, 1 p.m., West Ouachita, Making Candy from Cane Sugar
- Mar. 12, 1:30 p.m., Ouachita Valley, Box Gardening: Grown Your Own Food
- Mar. 12, 1:30 p.m., Anna Meyer, Queen Sugar Lip and Body Scrubs Craft
- Mar. 18, 2 p.m., West Monroe, Protecting Your Family's Finances
- Mar. 19, 1:30 p.m., Searcy, Louisiana Sugarcane Scene Painting
- Mar. 23, 5:30 p.m., Main Branch, Kash Schiefer: The Making of Cane Syrup
- Mar. 23, 6 p.m., Ollie Burns, Hand Pressed Sugarcane Juice
- Mar. 26, 11 a.m., Carver-McDonald, LSU AgCenter: Sugarcane Production and Farming
- Apr. 23, 12 p.m., Ouachita Valley, Author Visit: Natalie Baszile
- Apr. 23, 6 p.m., Main Branch, Author Visit: Natalie Baszile
For more information about River Reads: One Book, One Ouachita or Queen Sugar, click here.