Sugar Babies by Kali Fajardo-Anstine, 2013
The magic trick:
Combining three major plotlines into one story
Wait a second. Isn’t this New Mexico Week?
Kali Fajardo-Anstine is pretty definitively a Colorado writer, right?
Sure. But the Colorado setting here at least is southern Colorado. Plus, confused feelings about lineage and the past are thematically crucial to the story. And, the story does reference for at least one paragraph a past trip to New Mexico.
Also, it’s an outstanding story to read any week of the year.
So we’re counting it. Let’s go.
“Sugar Babies” combines three things happening to our eighth-grade narrator at the same time. The town Sierra lives in is receiving media attention for its recently uncovered native burial ground. Meanwhile, she has a school project that finds her sharing parental responsibilities for a sugar-sack baby with a boy named Robbie.
And coloring all of this is the return of her mother home after more than a year (at least?) being away on her own in Denver.
Each plot line plays into the other perfectly, so that the story can intertwine them naturally, blending the symbols and suggestions with minimal feelings of contrivance.
And that’s quite a trick on Fajardo-Anstine’s part.
“Ever feel like the land is swallowing you whole, Sierra? That all of this beauty is wrapped around you so tight it’s like being in a rattlesnake’s mouth?”
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