Customer Reviews for

Sweet Like Sugar

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted September 10, 2011

    Absolute Must Read

    I found this book facinating. The characters are so in depth, the story is passionate, moving, funny and deep. I absolutely loved it. I was so interested in what what happening to each character and everytime a new character was introduced it was done so with the same care and energy that you had no choice but to care about what was happening to them. Now I am not Jewish and there were terms I was unfamiliar with, but it did not take away from the story, in fact it makes me a little more interested in the subject. I highly recommend this book, it is one of the best I have read this year, it is so deeply moving, yet also light and quick that it is a must read this fall.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent, emotional look at young man reconciling his spirituality ...

    Benjamin Steiner grew up in a traditional (though just "almost Kosher") Jewish home in the DC suburbs. Now in his mid 20's, and openly gay, he feels disconnected from his family, his religion and - to some extent - his life, as he struggles to get his graphic design business going while placating his parents with participation in the Passover Seder.

    A man comes into his life, but not exactly what Benjamin had been hoping for. Benjamin becomes a helper and listening ear to an 80-year old widowed Orthodox rabbi who lives near his office, a relationship that his family and friends don't understand, but seems to fill a need on some level. They become a teacher to each other, as the rabbi helps the young man understand Judaism as a way of life rather than just a religion. Benjamin tries to help the stubborn rabbi adapt to a more relaxed approach to traditional teachings, including reconciliation with a person from his past, and a revelation that a gay person can still be a good Jewish man.

    Though I'm not Jewish, the book resonated with me on many levels, in the way that gays and lesbians try to reconcile their childhood experiences and lessons with the life we find available to us. The author treats a sensitive, relatable subject with intelligence, realistic emotion and a positive outlook toward what we can accomplish. Well written and much recommended, five stars out of five.

    - Bob Lind, Echo Magazine

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 10, 2011

    A Terrific Book!!

    I Thought Sweet Like Sugar was the best book I've read in a long time. I loved the dialog and Benji, the central Character's, struggle with his Jewish faith. His struggle is something I connected with in a strong way. I think anyone raised in a religious home - even a modestly religious home - be it Jewish, Christian, Moslem - struggle with those teachings as you get older. I found myself in tears in many places as Benji experiences some surprising and unexpected realities from the people around him. It's a wonderful book.

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  • Posted April 21, 2011

    The Look of Love

    Hoffman, Wayne. "Sweet Like Sugar", Kensington Books, 2011.

    "The Look of Love"

    Amos Lassen



    I became a Wayne Hoffman fan after reading his novel "Hard" and have been anxiously awaiting another book from him. Finally we have one and it is one of the most beautiful books that I have ever read (and I read a lot). Hoffman manages to combine my two favorite topics-Judaism and gay life-in the most sublime of ways and written in glorious prose. I began the book on a Friday morning and did not leave my chair until I finished it Friday evening (with the exception of a few moments in which I shot Hoffman an email to let him know how much I was enjoying his book).

    The theme of the faces of love that he uses is not new and could easily fall into melodrama or cliché but it goes nowhere near either. We start off meeting Benji Steiner, a twenty-something year old gay Jewish male who feels that his destiny might not hold love for him and he is indeed skeptical about meeting his soul mate. Then something very strange happens that changes his life forever. Steiner has am office at the same mall as Rabbi Jacob Zuckerman has his Jewish book store. The heat of the summer causes the Rabbi to tire easily and he uses the couch in Steiner's office for rest. As he comes to the office, a camaraderie develops between the two and through this each man gains new understanding about "love and faith and honesty and belonging."

    Coming from an Orthodox Jewish family myself, I could easily relate to the novel-so much so that it was eerie at times. I was raised with the Yiddish idea of "bashert"-that there is an ideal mate for everyone and we will know when we find him or her. Like Steiner I was distrustful that it would ever happen, unlike Steiner it never did (or hasn't yet). Rabbi Zuckerman had his "bashert" in his wife Sophie who died. The Rabbi had a hard time dealing with the feelings of loneliness and grief. Benji Steiner realizes this and the two men build a beautiful friendship from which both men profit.

    What is so interesting is that the Jewish religion has so many mysteries and is so beautiful that many do not realize what they have missed until after it is gone. In many cases, American Jews have become so assimilated that the religion becomes a twice a year affair. Being Jewish is not just a religion, for me, at least. It is a way of life that I have always adhered to and have always been proud of. Couple that with being and I can either have the best or worst of two worlds, depending on how you look at it. I think I have the best (or did until I came to Arkansas where both lifestyles are somewhat foreign). Reading about Benji Stein brought back so many memories that I actually thought that I might have been reading about myself.

    One knows he is alive when he faces truth and both Stein and the rabbi reach that point together. As they move toward that. We see hope fate brings two very different people together and how we are both united and divided by religion. We also see that sometimes the prejudices we hold can disappear with learning about or from another person.

    Benji Stein felt alienated from others because of his religion yet it also allowed him to feel connected to others. Interestingly enough I am writing this review during Passover, 2011 and Passover is the perfect example of what Benji experiences. The beautiful thing about the holiday is that when I sit down to Seder everywhere in the world Jews are doing exactly

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