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UGLY GIRL, SWEET NECTAR

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Fiya Goddess: I would recommend this to every woman. — 4/7/21: "When I read the title of the book it caught my attention instantly. I played around in the beginning because I was scared to read it. The rawness of Alessa’s words are intriguing. It’s a fictional story I believe but it’s relatable. The trauma she faced in her life is hard to read because of how realistic it is. I love her relationship with her daughters even her teenager who’s like “whatever” about everything. Her parents are disturbing if anything I can’t believe they both played a part In so much pain in her and her sisters life but at the same time I feel like I was there with them. She has healed from the trauma and at the end this is a empowering book. "

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Anne Greenawalt : An Important and Empowering Story — 4/6/21: "Ugly Girl, Sweet Nectar is a brave book based on a true story that tackles childhood abuse and the resulting adult trauma like poor relationships, guilt, self-consciousness, and low self-esteem. To ease the heaviness of these topics, the author also provides many doses of light-heartedness and hope, mostly in scenes with the protagonist's children and kind strangers.

The protagonist, Alessa, narrates her story to show her complicated adult relationships with her parents and uses journal entries to illustrate the numerous and complex instances of childhood emotional abuse and neglect she suffered because of them. Despite her parents' inability to care for Alessa, she caregives for all of them as they age and become ill. The childhood abuse scenes are uncomfortable, but I think it's her parents' actions and words in her adult life that made me angriest, possibly because I want Alessa to say or do more to defend herself. But the author makes it clear why she is unable to defend herself yet. Alessa's stepmother is a particularly unpalatable character with no redeeming qualities. I'm not sure if I want to applaud Alessa for being so patient, kind, and loving, or tell her to run far away from her parental figures and never look back.

A cast of mismatched lovers and friends sometimes deliberately, sometimes inadvertently help Alessa to heal from her childhood trauma by providing new perspectives on love and forgiveness. At times, the writing becomes clunky or uninspired, and sometimes the transitions in and out of scenes or in and out of Alessa's journal pulled me out of the story, but the characters and content easily pulled me back in over and over.

Stories acknowledging trauma and its effects are not easy to tell -- or listen to. But Alessa is a sympathetic, genuine character. She doesn't sugarcoat her story: she wears her flaws on her sleeve and doesn't skimp on her life's details. But she also embodies love, hope, forgiveness, and self-healing, which make this an important and empowering story."

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LegitReviews (Punica Bhardwaj): I could not put this book down — 2/28/21: "When I started reading this book, I was intrigued by the title and the premise. What I didn’t expect was the sheer amount of the realness of the story. Alessa and Lilla are all of us, in some part or the other. There are many times during the story that help you validate the reality you’ve lived with and to think “you’re not alone”. At some points I was annoyed by alessa for not even trying to work on herself but as you dive deep into all that she went thru, you cannot help but side with her. She did all she could and thank god for her courage at barely 12 years old to take charge and protect her little sister. All older sisters /siblings can relate to that. At the heart of this book is a story about mental illness and the stigma around it. We discover the one disease which was the root cause of all the issues everyone faced, but I can’t help but wonder if Pam had one too? The behaviour she exhibited cannot possibly be categorised as ‘normal’. My heart breaks for the father, he didn’t deserve it but I wish he’d just stood up for his girls. This book is extremely hard to read due to how much trauma is discussed, but at the same time it’s very hard to stop once you start. (It was also fascinating to read the dialogues between vinay and alessa. It sounds like a lot of my buddies from India! I do wonder if the name Prakeet was a typo. Did the author mean to name the character Prateek?) In all, 5/5."

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Nicky Skene: Highly emotional read! — 2/25/21: "Written in the form of an almost memoir, based on true life but also a work of fiction. However you would describe the genre/type of book - I thought it was a highly emotional read! Our heroine Alessa journals her early lifetime experiences which gives us an insight into the hows and whys of her now introverted and almost secluded lifestyle. Alessa decides to get herself out there but finds it difficult to at first. I love the way this has been written - present time with the journal entries being written to give us a view of her past. At different times of the book I found it to be happy, sad, funny, infuriating and at other times disturbing. A first for me from D.D. Kaye, I found this to be very well written and a truly beautiful story overall. Highlighted to me the importance of love, acceptance, forgiveness and beliefs. Would highly recommend. I was gifted a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review."   Note: The review is also posted on Nicky Skene's book blog: Too Many Books Never Enough Time

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Emma W.: Delightful Read — 2/24/21: "My husband bought “Ugly Girl, Sweet Nectar” for me. It’s what I can best describe as a life-changing read. I had experienced many of the same situations as Alessa like childhood trauma, job loss, caring for aging parents, issues with forming personal relationships, self image issues. Ugly Girl Sweet Nectar provided some new and unique insights for healing and forgiving. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who has been affected by physical and/or emotional trauma of any kind. As the book reminds us, we are products of our environment, but our environment doesn't have to define where we end up in the future. *Peace*"

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Panyol (Maria Rivas McMillan) : It may be just me but... — 2/21/21: "There were elements I really enjoyed in Ugly Girl, Sweet Nectar, particularly the laugh out loud bits. Then, there were moments when I skimmed to get to the next part. And, there were times when I really had no patience with the lead character who had a a childhood from hell but, then, three children later when does adulting kick in? At one point, I wondered if the experiences of different people had been coddled together. The mother, father, stepmother relationships were very weird to me and her response mechanisms even more so. A succession of bad choices combined with a focus on the frivolous when she’d been unemployed for months left me exasperated. However, it may just be me. I received a complimentary copy for a fair review. "

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Ganesh V.: Inspiration, emotional memoir of a strong woman — 2/13/21: "A personal memoir with strong personal experiences, this book is difficult to sum up in one word. It has a mix of the universal philosophy, the pain of the wronged, the love of a child towards one’s parents, the care of a sister, warmth of a mother and genuine of a friend. One could easily relate to the protagonist, with their share of troubles and daily challenges, with numerous curve balls from life. Yet, universe finds a way to send a message to enable the protagonist to embrace the darker aspects of her life and ultimately get some amount of closures. While certain loose ends do get ultimately wrapped up, I personally hope that the protagonist found a better person for her own life. Written with flash-backs and interspersed with poems, this emotional roller coaster ride is definitely a must read !!!!"   Note: Amazon (India) review can be seen on amazon.in

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SNG: So grateful to have read this book - loved it! — 2/4/21: "I don’t recall reading a book that affected me quite like Ugly Girl, Sweet Nectar. It inspired me to take a look at hurtful experiences in my own life that caused self-image issues. I commend the author for candidly sharing a difficult story".

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KSL: A wonderful, thought-provoking read — 1/22/21: "I loved this book. There were plenty of "this could be me!" moments sprinkled throughout, as well as plenty of thought-provoking insights worthy of pondering. Although Alessa's life had many sad and even horrific events in it, her strength and resilience were amazing and inspiring. A wonderful read, especially for women entering the second half of their lives who are ready to let go of the "should nots' and embrace the "shoulds".

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MAK: Bitter and Beautiful — 1/16/21: "The title of the book intrigued me, and the synopsis compelled me. Especially after watching the YouTube book trailer mentioned in the description. I expected the book to be an interesting read but then found it to be SO much more. It's a reminder that we are all a product of our environments and experiences. We can be programmed to believe we are ugly and bad. Horrible acts inflicted on us as children can create shame and guilt that we subconsciously carry into our adult lives and negatively affects self-image, relationships, and parenting. The descriptions of the childhood abuses described in Alessa’s memories were horrific but written in a way that didn’t make me feel too uncomfortable to read them, though I was very much affected. My heart bled for her. Her childhood memories were triggered when caring for her dying parents, the abusers. She really had to fight her inner demons in order to forgive them. Despite it all there is enough lighthearted moments and a touch of humor in the main story of Alessa’s adult life to offset the intense darkness. I found it heartwarming that something so inspiring, enthralling, and eye opening could come out of such a traumatic life. Ugly Girl, Sweet Nectar is very well written and an amazing story that will stick in my mind for a long time."

Ugly Girl, Sweet Nectar book cover

SYNOPSIS

After spending a lifetime of living a secluded life, Alessa journals her experiences as she embarks on a quest to live a more colorful life of “Shoulds” instead of “Should Nots”. She courageously emerges from her hermit cave and re-enters the dating scene when a rude awakening unexpectedly detours her journey down a path of self-reflection to examine her character flaws, self-image issues, and what caused them.

Compelled to find answers, Alessa digs deep to unearth her past, and discovers a scathing childhood of abuse and trauma. At the same time, she is faced with the seemingly impossible duty of taking care of the abusers – her parents. Both suffer from rare and merciless diseases. With the help of her best friend, some random acquaintances, and a few auspicious fortune cookies, Alessa learns to heal herself, and finds the fortitude needed to forgive her parents so she can see them through their illnesses to the bitter end.

Entwining pain, strength, and humor, Ugly Girl, Sweet Nectar is an inspirational and intimate story about the power of survival, forgiveness, and resilience. It candidly explores the devastating effects of childhood trauma on the human spirit; how it shapes one’s emotional life as an adult, and subconsciously affects every aspect of it – relationships, parenting, body image, and more. It speaks unflinching truth to the turbulent process of healing, and how the process can repair even the most unimaginable wounds.

DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction based on a true story. Although its form is that of a memoir, it is not one. Time has been rearranged to suit the convenience of the book. To maintain anonymity, the names of individuals (living and dead) have been changed, and in some instances identifying details such as physical appearance and age have been changed. Some events have been compressed, and some dialogue has been recreated. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.

Genre. Fiction based on a true story, Family & Relationships, Literature & Fiction (Women, Family Life).

Mature Subject Matter. Some violence, light swearing, some sexual situations.

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SNIPPET

"I was an ugly freak. It was no wonder why I was violated, and my parents rejected me. I felt wretched and ashamed, plagued with guilt that somehow everything was my fault. It was my fault that my parents divorced. It was my fault that I was violated, and somehow it was even my fault for being born so ugly. Sobs tried to punch through, ripping through my guts, muscles, and bones as I ran. But I held it all in, held it in tight. I kept a stiff upper lip – just as I had been taught. I wanted to vanish – to disappear. "


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