Read I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots by Susan Straight Online


Beginning in the late 1950s, this novel tells the story of Marietta Cook, a tall girl growing up in Pine Gardens, a Gullah-speaking village in South Carolina. When Marietta's mother dies, she heads to Charleston in search of her uncle - only to find a lover and return pregnant with twins two years later. She raises her sons back home in the low country before moving the faBeginning in the late 1950s, this novel tells the story of Marietta Cook, a tall girl growing up in Pine Gardens, a Gullah-speaking village in South Carolina. When Marietta's mother dies, she heads to Charleston in search of her uncle - only to find a lover and return pregnant with twins two years later. She raises her sons back home in the low country before moving the family to Charleston, where she takes a growing interest in football and the civil rights movement. The boys grow huge and talented at the game, playing pro football in California. A new world and new travails await, but Marietta's great resilience endures....

Title : I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780385470124
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots Reviews

  • Caroline
    2019-01-04 03:11

    This is my second? third? Susan Straight novel. When I finally took a second to look at the back flap author blurb, you could have punched in the face I was so shocked. She's ...white.... Does...does she live in an all Black neighborhood? Black hubbie? Anywho, this book is pretty good. If it weren't for having to re-read the Gullah parts, it's almost as good as Blacker than a Thousand Midnights. The best part is that, although a white woman writing this, this isn't some "poor black people wallowing in misery". Nor is there any sort of coonery. It's not insulting or belittling to our race. All the books I've read, she has the characters overcome adversity and succeed in life. She portrays racism in its true form and does not try to downplay it.Marietta busts her ass, she is orphaned at a young age and leaves home and works but ends up pregnant. She is a single teenage mom, and seeing the father doesn't want to be a father, she raises her children without anyone's help. She does what needs to be done, even if it's degrading, to give her twins a good life. She doesn't ask for handouts, and she is noble, strong, and proud all at once, having to suffer fear/unease/taunting both from whites and other blacks as a result of her blue-black skin and being very tall.

  • K.S.R.
    2018-12-17 07:17

    Wow. The protagonist in this story is a woman of incredible strength and depth of character that makes me want -- still to this day -- to be able to forge ahead through the challenges of life with dignity.

  • Jan Priddy
    2019-01-01 02:15

    It took me a few hours to read the last dozen pages. I did not want this story to end. In truth, it doesn't feel like it ended, more like real life going on without me. I did not see it coming. I did not mind that a substantial section involved sport. I rooted for the characters but loved them like my own people. Despite failures and disappointments and error and loss, this is a hopeful novel at a time when hope is much-needed. People do the best they can with what they have. They make mistakes. They love ferociously.

  • Judith
    2019-01-01 06:00

    I Been in Sorrow’s Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots by Susan Straight opens in a Gullah-speaking village in South Carolina where 14-year-old Marietta Cook’s mother is ailing. After she dies, Marietta makes her way to Charleston. Already as tall as a man, with skin like her father's -- as dark as night -- she gets herself a job doing men's work: cleaning fish, hauling goods and mopping floors. In time, she also finds a lover, so when her pregnancy begins to show, she returns to her home village to be delivered of twin boys.Meanwhile, the owner of a long-abandoned mansion returns to reclaim it, having decided to recreate his property as a guest house and museum of slave-era plantation life. After a nearly starving winter, Marietta's aunt takes on daycare of the twins so that Marietta can sign on to a crew of workers promised year-round work as field laborers wearing period costumes. Not long after her supervisor becomes aware of her babies, he insists she bring them to work with her. She tries to keep an eye on the toddlers, but soon discovers they are being used as playmates for the boss family’s son. In time, his bullying becomes evident, but not to his family. Seeing that her home is on the old plantation lands and her aunt's house is being moved to be shown off as the slave cabin it used to be, Marietta flees to Charleston again, this time taking her children with her.From the Gullah dialect and rich descriptions, you can practically feel the hunger and smell the shrimp. From Marietta's fierce determination, you can be sure her children will not be hungry for long.

  • Donna Davis
    2019-01-13 05:22

    How many white authors have the nerve to write as if they can see into the very soul of an African-American protagonist? I only know of one, and I think she carries it off really well.There's good reason for it: Straight grew up as virtually the only Caucasian in a Black neighborhood in Riverside, California. She's written several good novels, but this one may be the most memorable so far. Her protagonist lives in an almost unreachable island off the Carolina coasts. Deep back in a nearly impenetrable area that is technologically about 100 years behind, a flushing toilet and an electrical outlet are unseen. Yet tourists somehow get there (god, aren't they everywhere?) and so she and her family eke out a living by cutting the reeds that grow in the swamps and weaving them into intricate baskets.She learns early that if a girl (teenage life is unknown in this culture) is six feet tall and very dark, she'd better stay seated when the tourists come to the roadside stand. White folks are terrified of a girl that large, that dark.So as strange as it may seem, if you are in for a cultural education that is very specific (the Gullah people), as well as an offbeat civil rights lesson, not to mention, exquisitely rendered literature, pick up this book. Give it a try.

  • Peggy
    2019-01-16 06:21

    I've been putting off reading this book even though I bought it for my Kindle weeks ago. I've never heard of Susan Straight, and wasn't sure what the book would be about, reading the title. I am a student of African American history, and culture. I knew I would probably like the book, but was afraid to be disappointed.I definitely wasn't disappointed! This book has a poignancy and a seriousness to it that made it very hard to put down. I read into the night two nights, and finished the book in three days. It is a story of a strong woman; a powerful and courageous woman. Marrietta lives in a one room house out side Charleston, with her Mother. They are basket weavers who set up their baskets in tiny stands along the road near where they live along with other women in their small enclave. Straight's (the author) a master of description, and her descriptions of the white people who stop in their cars, leave them idling, "long enough to make a quick getaway," and climb out to look at the excellent handiwork, comment on it, leave without buying make her one of the best I've read. The story is about Marrietta's life from childhood beside the road, abject poverty, fishing the river for anything to eat with rice, to her escape to downtown Charleston and coming of age while working in a bar/restaurant next to the river. Even there, in Charleston she lives in poverty, not knowing about cities, people, or what to think about the many sights and sounds. After several years working there in the downtown, she begins to sleep with a man who also works with her. She becomes pregnant and leaves Charleston to go back to "Pine Garden." Sixteen when she got pregnant, she gives birth to twin boys. She raises them to toddlerhood, and when the white man who owns the place she was born, wants to move it because it is an "authentic slave cabin," she escapes again to Charleston, where she finds her own apartment, again lives in grinding poverty and raises her sons. She befriends several people in the apartment house, and they help her learn the things she needs to know for life. The boys grow into big strong football players who are, after USC, drafted by the LA Rams. They bring her out to California, and give her all the money she should want. She finally asserts herself and moves to the Ghetto, where she makes a home for herself. This is truly a shell of the story. Please read it for the incredible language of the Gullah people, the descriptions of Marrietta as "blue-black" and bigger than anyone else, the amazing trials she has and overcomes. It is an epic read. I highly recommend it.

  • Janey Skinner
    2019-01-03 06:05

    This is a moving account of a woman's path through life, standing up for herself and her own, resisting the structures of slavery that persisted into the 20th century (and on to today). Marietta is a captivating character, and I especially enjoyed how Marietta's close relationships were portrayed - with the older generation (whether birth family or found family), with her sons, with the first man she feel for and with the last one, too. The writing is lyrical and vivid. I was struck, early in the book, by a description of winter hunger that had me vicariously experiencing how it eats at a person, with lethargy and the fear of death, making a person desperate enough to accept almost any alternative.I had some ambivalence about the writing in dialect - I always have a resistance to dialect that is written phonetically (as opposed to that expressed through word choice), since it seems to say "you who are not in the community would hear this as "fe" instead of "for"" - but how about people who are of that community? are they not among the reading audience too? But I got used to it, and I appreciated how Straight conveys various sub-cultures or groups within the African American community, and how people code-switch, using different sentence structures, word choices and presumably tones of voice, depending on whom they are talking with.I wanted to absolutely love this book - as it came highly recommended by a friend, and because I am in serious awe of Susan Straight as a teacher. I would say I liked it very much ... perhaps my expectations were overly inflated.

  • Rebecca
    2018-12-26 05:03

    Sad book to read, but so interesting. I was surprised to learn about the perspective of another, one I assumed was a lot like me. I don't realize the assumptions I make. For example, the main character, Marietta, is at a football game, wearing her new "Africa" print top. A white man approaches her and asks if this is her first football game. "You're from Africa, right?" When she tells her daughter-in-law about this later, the daughter-in-law says, "What was he going to do if you were? Start talking Swahili?" What unthinking questions do I ask people?The segments set at the old plantation with the historian trying to get everything historically correct were heartbreaking.After I finished reading this book, I Googled the title. Here's what I found:“I have been in Sorrow's kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and a sword in my hands.” Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on a RoadThis explains a lot.

  • Denise
    2018-12-27 07:12

    A compelling novel set (at first) in 1960s backwoods South Carolina. A little tricky to get past the regional black patois at the beginning, but after that a fast read. Very good local color of the Charleston area and later on of Southern California.

  • jessica
    2018-12-17 04:23

    susan straight is one of my absolute favorite authors. every single book of hers is amazing and will take you to places (i'm thinking that ..) you've never been. if i told you the plot, it wouldn't even begin to do it justice - just read it!

  • Jane
    2019-01-02 05:18

    I stumbled on this book by accident, had never heard a thing about it, which made its greatness all the more sideswipingly astonishing. A powerful story with delicately drawn characters and amazing dialogue without a skerrick of sentimentality. Just beautiful.

  • Wendy
    2018-12-28 09:16

    Surprisingly moving - it made me cry on the beach in Australia. I like this Susan Straight: She has a sense of history and an interest in how people get to where they are both geographically and in their interior lives. I want to try more by her.

  • Diana Abreu
    2019-01-03 10:07

    There is a scene in this book that comes back to me often. The main character, an African-American woman from the rural south has her son and his wife over for dinner. He's a successful football player and she thinks he's getting uppity and aims to teach him a lesson about humility. She invites them over for dinner and feeds them a poor southern folk's meal: greens and beans. His wife, who grew up in the projects in L.A., reciprocates by inviting the mom over for something called "red dinner." Hot dogs and red cool-aid. The mother realizes there's poor, and then there's poor. This gives me such empathy for poor city folk. At least my own mother, who raised nine children on a carpenter's salary, had a big garden to feed us from all summer.

  • Evan Snyder
    2019-01-04 03:10

    I had to re-start this one many times, but finally got through it. On the first two attempts I didn't get past the first 20 pages, specifically the very beginning of the book where Marietta is at the basket selling stands with her mother and the other women. Between the Gullah-speak and the sitting around selling baskets, something it seemed neither Marietta nor I cared about at all, I didn't get engaged. However, once she runs away to Charleston, things got more interesting. When all was said and done, I felt like I saw an interesting portrait of a few evolving times, places, and cultures, but wasn't particularly inspired or blown away.**spoilers cometh**Some very scattered thoughts:* Marietta's father looms over the whole tale, and I wish more was included about his story.* The "historically accurate" plantation-made-hotel where Marietta worked in the fields was an extremely distressing and insultingly, patronizingly racist setup. I don't know if any such places actually existed, but the whole thing made my skin crawl, especially when they move Aint Sister's original slave home closer to the main house and try to charge Marietta rent for hers.* Nate's foray into steroids felt like it left a bit of development on the table. The tension between him and Carolanne and the pressure of being in the NFL, let alone other pressure to keep his family lifted from poverty and not blow it, was a fascinating internal conflict that just sort of silently wrapped itself up without too much probing.* Why the heck did Sinbad show up that the very end just to chat? I feel like the intention was to demonstrate that Marietta is happy even though she encountered a large array of difficulties in her life, including getting pregnant as a teenager and being veritably abandoned by Sinbad, but his brief appearance was superfluous - that was already clear.My favorite arc through the book was Marietta's transition from borderline resenting to embracing and seeking out the community around her. She's downright resentful of her original community, particularly Aint Sister (although I can hardly blame her as the woman was quite condescending), but by the ends seeks out a residence in California with a very parallel culture, lifestyle, and community structure. She goes from resenting and distrusting community help to valuing and respecting it. Many of the other reviews focus on how strong Marietta is. Undoubtedly, she is a very grounded and persevering character, but she wouldn't have made it without the various communities to hold her up. Her personality is very constant other than this one important transition.

  • Coralie
    2019-01-10 03:26

    Marietta grew up in the Low Country of South Carolina, she speaks Gullah but is not from the islands. She is a very large, very black girl who is not a favorite among the women of the neighborhood. She doesn't like to help do the daily work. She would rather fish and hang out in the woods. When Marietta is 15, her mother dies and she tries to escape the control of her aunt and the other neighborhood women by going to Charleston in search of her uncle. In Charleston, Marietta learns about life in a big city. She makes friends but also has some very hard times. This book is somewhat slow in spots. Marietta has a hard life. She never gives up, though, and as she becomes older, you can see her attitude change from the cocky young teenage girl to a mature woman who is determined to make a life for herself but learns to appreciate what others do for her as well. This book might seem slow because life in South Carolina during the late fifties and early sixties was so much slower than life in New England in 2009.

  • J
    2018-12-21 09:30

    In "I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots" the story begins with the women of Pine Garden, a close knit community formed by the descendants of slaves, selling their wares on the roadside of the highway leading to Charleston, SC. We meet 6 feet tall, 14 year old Marietta, who is described as "wild" beacuse she'd rather spend her days in trees reading or fishing and shrimping with the menfolk than learning the intricate basket weaving technique of the women.After the sudden death of her mother, Marietta decides to flee to the city in search of an uncle living in Charleston who has also been descirbed as "wild".In the city she has no luck finding her uncle, but does find steady work and use of the rental room her uncle has vacated. So begins Marrietta's journey through adulthood, the changing ways of America in the 60's, and race relations outside of her plantation community.

  • Jessica
    2018-12-24 10:27

    Another great read! Since I don't usually read the book description on the inside jacket, I initially had a hard time understanding what was going on with the dialect. After getting into the first few chapters I realized that this it was gullah or creole. The title, an old saying passed on from generation to generation, may lead some readers to believe this book is on the heavy side but it isn't. Sure, the characters face hardships but who doesn't! I love how the author gets you thinking about the simple things in life. How more (more money, more cars, more technology etc.) isn't necessarily better and certainly doesn't guarantee happiness. This is going on my favorites list!

  • Jana
    2018-12-17 06:01

    i picked up this book because of the title, best title i've ever seen. really good book, you fall into it so far you start thinking in the way the characters speak. getting near the end now tho and having trouble finishing, starting to drag. still, i recommend it. she takes you in so that you don't even realize you are walking along with the main character and seeing everything she sees.few weeks later..... i can't finish this book. i absolutely loved the first 2/3rds but it's been dragging to me, probably more my distractedness than her writing, so i'm shelving it for awhile, maybe come back to it.

  • Susie
    2018-12-20 03:03

    I am enjoying Susan Straight's writings. Our book club will be discussing a variety of her works and this is the 2nd I have read. Her immersion into the dialects of her characters is fascinating to me. I find myself wondering what her background is. This book takes us through the life of a woman who starts impoverished but with the desire for something different. As with Take One Candle Light a Room we traverse from the south to the LA area (other direction in Candle. Both have been interesting and enjoyable reads. The dialect in this one is a little more challenging.

  • Poupina
    2018-12-31 02:03

    Looks like someone else is a fan of Zora! So I, naturally, had to pick this book up."I have been in Sorrow's kitchen and licked out all the pots. Then I have stood on the peaky mountain wrapped in rainbows, with a harp and sword in my hands.” - Zora Neale Hurston Straight, with yet another book in dialect - this time in Gullah, spoken in the South Carolinas and sea islands; and, even though I speak French fluently and understand Creole French, I can't say if it's all right in this book. I can say: within the context of this totally engrossing, long novel, it is poetic and it is graphic.

  • Maggie
    2019-01-17 04:01

    good heavens! i thought this book fantastic, in a most positive sense ... whenever i picked it up to read it, i found myself in marietta's world and didn't want to leave ... such an engaging STORY about living as a southern black woman, single mother, smart, hard-working, and devoted to her family yet uneducated and never for an instant narcissistic!! ubuntu -- family/community first ... and the setting for this story is a community i envy ... highly highly recommended! now to find time to read the other two books in the rio seco series by susan straight. whoa.

  • Jeana
    2019-01-10 06:15

    ok. this book is really about style, not plot. the plot isn't anything special. "gullah grrl goes to big city, gets pregnant, comes home, leaves home, raises sons." yay.but it's the language and the way the language illustrates feeling that is interesting about this book.interesting. not necessarily compelling. because the plot's so thin, there were many times when i thought, "why, self? why is self reading this?" i did want to know how it ended, but it wasn't that big a one needs to be committed to completing this book.

  • Hans
    2018-12-20 05:21

    4.5 stars - Though this book is often quiet and slow, the result is quite powerful and unexpected...just like the central character Marietta Cook. This is a book that will stick with me for a long time.(view spoiler)[I really enjoyed the turns of the story as Marietta moves along the edge of the Civil Rights movement, a bigoted version of heritage tourism, and the sport of football at amateur and professional levels. (hide spoiler)]

  • Stephanie
    2019-01-11 02:27

    I'd been hearing the title for a long time and wanted to read this, so when I saw it on the shelf at a library book sale I jumped on it. Susan Straight does an amazing job with the inner thoughts of an introverted woman from rural South Carolina as she travels through life. The dialect is well written and Marietta is definitely a character I care about. That said, The book ended... poorly? Abruptly? Strangely? Like a sequel was coming? Definitely unsatisfying conclusion.

  • Cynthia
    2019-01-15 07:19

    Things I Love about this book:1. The title. Completely awesome.2. The author's name. Cool.3. The cover art, by Michael Schwab. The stark print depicts the protagonist, Marietta Cook, from below, half her face in shadow. Her fists appear to be clenched.4. The author, Susan Straight, is a tiny white woman. Her character Marietta, is a very large woman with blue-black skin. I don't know if this takes cultural sensitivity or just guts, but either way, Straight pulls it off. Loved it.

  • Shannon Barber
    2019-01-15 03:10

    This is a really lovely novel. I really enjoy Susan Straight's usage of Gullah. In general the language in this book is very beautiful, compelling and well worth the read. I will say that if you are a person who has trouble reading dialects this book may not be for you. If you have read Irvine Welsh's books and had trouble this one may take some time.

  • Mylissa
    2018-12-29 02:02

    I was really intrigued by this book because I wasn't really sure where it was headed. It meandered here, it meandered there, there were sorrows, there were joys, failures and successes. An interesting tale of a woman finding herself, long after she is a grown woman and helping others on the way to finding themselves.

  • Chris Laskey
    2019-01-04 05:12

    2nd Read. The amazing journey of Marietta- Big Ma - providing the reader with a powerful and revealing work, that while fiction, reads like a biography. It feels that real. Straight captures various cultural styles from dirt poor southern Gullah through L.A low and high suburbs all in dialect and manners that feels thoroughly authentic.

  • Tammey
    2019-01-10 06:22

    Such an awesome read. I picked this book up on a clearance, not really expecting much until I read the first page. I was hooked from the beginning. The dialect was a little confusing at first, but once I immersed myself, it flowed like honey. The main character, Marietta Cook, is the epitome of resilience. Highly recommend.

  • Suzie
    2018-12-22 10:19

    I read this book about 8 years ago or so. I was struggling a little with baby blues and the title just grabbed me. Could not put this book down. I really would like to re read this book at some point.