The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden

The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Categories: Historical, Slavery

When prestigious plantation owner Cornelius Allen gives his daughter Clarissa’s hand in marriage, she takes with her a gift: Sarah—her slave and her half-sister.  Raised by an educated mother, Clarissa is not a proper southern belle she appears to be with ambitions of loving who she chooses and Sarah equally hides behind the façade of being a docile house slave as she plots to escape. Both women bring these tumultuous secrets and desires with them to their new home, igniting events that spiral into a tale beyond what you ever imagined possible and it will leave you enraptured until the very end.

Told through alternating viewpoints of Sarah and Theodora Allen, Cornelius’ wife, Marlen Suyapa Bodden’s The Wedding Gift is an intimate portrait that will leave readers breathless.

My Thoughts:

The Wedding Gift is a lovely story with an important message. The historical details were authentic and interesting. I also enjoyed most of the characters. I’m always happy to run into strong women in literature.

The story kept me engaged and turning the pages. Unfortunately the writing felt rushed at times and some of the dialogue came off as awkward. I’m sure that one more spin through an editor’s hands could have fixed those issues. I do recommend the The Wedding Gift as the story itself overcomes those issues.

I have high hopes for this author. She obviously has something to say and the desire to say it. For a first effort The Wedding Gift hit most of the right notes. I’ll be watching out for what she comes up with next.

Dr. Marlen Suyapa Bodden is a lawyer at The Legal Aid Society in New York City, the nation’s oldest and largest legal services organization. She has more than two decades’ experience representing poor people and low-wage and immigrant workers, many of whom are severely underpaid, if paid at all.

She drew on her knowledge of modern and historical slavery, human trafficking, and human rights abuses to write The Wedding Gift, her first novel.

On May 20, 2012, the University of Rhode Island conferred on Marlen an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Marlen is a graduate of New York University School of Law and Tufts University.

33 thoughts on “The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden

  1. I had this book in e galley but just couldn't find time for it. I enjoy story books set in the slave era because I continue to be educated and surprised at what I learn. Good review, thanks.


  2. I wholeheartedly agree with you on this one! My review comes out tomorrow. Funny how so many of us have this one. I bet the very same publicist contacted us! Great review.


  3. This sounds good! Adding it to my list. The mention of awkward dialogue does give me pause (that is one of my major book pet peeves) but I'll try it out anyway. Thanks!


  4. I passed on this for review, but only because my to-read list is so long. I did really want to read it, and it sounds like I should, anyway!


  5. Woo for accurate historical details! The few times that I've paired historical fiction with non-fiction, I've really enjoyed it, so I'd like to do that more. I think it's great that you read so many debut authors and see the potential in each of them. Hopefully this author's next book will be even better 🙂


  6. I reviewed this for Library Journal, and I enjoyed it too, as a book with a strong story that carries you along, and a strong female main character. That's how I prefer my historical fiction to be whenever I read it, which isn't all that often!


  7. There's something very readable about books that have families where slaves are kin to the owners. Both upsetting, when they are treated like they are not kin (besides the obvious slavery in general) and interesting for the interactions they do have. Mind-blowing in so many ways. And this sounds a lot better than those I've read.


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