The Sweet By and By: A Novel
  • Alternative view 1 of The Sweet By and By: A Novel
  • Alternative view 2 of The Sweet By and By: A Novel

The Sweet By and By: A Novel

4.3 42
by Todd Johnson
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Meet five North Carolina women who are about to change the way you think about friendship. For Rhonda, a gritty, fun-loving hairdresser in tight jeans, the sights and smells of Ridgecrest Nursing Center are depressing. But before she can change her mind about working there, two residents glue themselves to her: Margaret, droll and whip-smart, with a will of

Overview

Meet five North Carolina women who are about to change the way you think about friendship. For Rhonda, a gritty, fun-loving hairdresser in tight jeans, the sights and smells of Ridgecrest Nursing Center are depressing. But before she can change her mind about working there, two residents glue themselves to her: Margaret, droll and whip-smart, with a will of iron that never fails her even when her body does, and Bernice, an avid country music fan who is rarely lucid. Together with Lorraine, their church-going, God-questioning nurse, and her daughter, April, bright and ambitious, they lock arms in courage and humor for a journey that speaks to us all—of how we live and die, of how we love and forgive.

Editorial Reviews

Kathryn Stockett
“I am in love with this book — the language, the story, the sass. Five women bickering, judging, loving, growing old together. You won’t stop laughing, even when your heart is hurting. Keep a pencil close — you’ll be underlining all your favorite, funny lines.”
Alice Walker
“The women of The Sweet By and By have found a devoted muse in Todd Johnson.”
Real Simple
“Read The Sweet By and By…Johnson explores the lives of five Southern women who are unexpectedly connected to each other. While most of the action takes place in a nursing home, their stories never fall short of livelihood. Think of it as Steel Magnolias meets The Golden Girls.”
Raleigh News & Observer
“Poignant.”
Adriana Trigiani
“Heartfelt and stunning…Mr. Johnson paints a lush portrait of Southern life in vivid detail with clarity and wit. You will be riveted by the story of a group of unlikely friends, five North Carolina women bonded by their shared histories, passions and secrets. It’s a genuine page turner.”
Birmingham News
“Nothing short of amazing . . . I had a whole new perspective on both living and dying after reading this stunning novel.”
Las Vegas Review Journal
“Packed with so much poignancy readers might want to keep tissues handy…heartfelt…realistically portrays the challenges the elderly face and captures the authentic voices of these five very different women. This is a novel not to be missed.”
Winston-Salem Journal
“Gentle, sensitive...sometimes funny, occasionally sad, and ultimately life-affirming… Johnson has done an admirable job of making each woman distinct and memorable…the reader will have a clear picture of each in mind—and will feel fond of them..a fine debut. I look forward to seeing what Johnson writes next.”
Greensboro News & Record
“My favorite book of the past few months . . . As Johnson reveals these women to readers, you discover that he has captured the very souls of women we all know, respect and love.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061579516
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/30/2010
Pages:
321
Sales rank:
382,059
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

Related Subjects

What People are saying about this

Adriana Trigiani
“Heartfelt and stunning…Mr. Johnson paints a lush portrait of Southern life in vivid detail with clarity and wit. You will be riveted by the story of a group of unlikely friends, five North Carolina women bonded by their shared histories, passions and secrets. It’s a genuine page turner.”
Kathryn Stockett
“I am in love with this book — the language, the story, the sass. Five women bickering, judging, loving, growing old together. You won’t stop laughing, even when your heart is hurting. Keep a pencil close — you’ll be underlining all your favorite, funny lines.”
Alice Walker
“The women of The Sweet By and By have found a devoted muse in Todd Johnson.”

Meet the Author

Todd Johnson was born and raised in North Carolina. Following a career as a teacher and studio singer in New York City, he received a Tony Award nomination as a producer of The Color Purple on Broadway. He studied history at UNC-Chapel Hill and holds a master's degree from Yale Divinity School. He lives in Connecticut. This is his first novel.

If The Sweet By and By prompts you to share a personal story, please write to Todd@ToddJohnsonBooks.com.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Sweet By and By 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
LCH47 More than 1 year ago
This one is a look at real life, a sensitive perspective through the distinctive voices of four Southern women, taking place entirely in a retirement home. This book is about what really matters. Former society women who reside there and a nurse and a beautician who work there, all of these women are imperfect human beings, flawed and endearing in their own ways, such is real life. The thoughtful, beautiful story unfolds as a series of vignettes, each told in the "first person" voice of one of the main characters. It's intense and rich with emotion, loaded with compassion and wisdom. We ALL want to be treated with dignity, kindness and understanding through all of life, especially when we survive long enough to have our roles changed from caregiver to the person needing to be cared for. It's as frustrating and humiliating for the receiver as it is for the giver. No one wants to depend on someone else to do everything for them. This shows us what the elderly can still offer us if we care enough to listen. The setting of a nursing home could have been a depressing place to write about, but the author explores love, compassion and friendship between the characters and opens our eyes to SEE BEYOND to realize there is still a complete, deep human being behind the frailty. The essence of all the characters was captured brilliantly and I recommend highly to all. Other books that excited me and opened my eyes, that completely changed the way I look at myself and the world are: SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME, EXPLOSION IN PARIS and THE HELP.
mareCA More than 1 year ago
I was excited when I saw this book. I'd not heard of this author and was interested in what he had to say his first time out and since I and my friends are getting older, this book had a particular interest to me. The characters are people that I know... The book lets you know how unlikely meetings can turn into lifetime friendships. Who would have thought that a young beautician could have love for women who are older and so different than she and I liked the way the author made the connection between her and Bernice for the readers. I totally related to Lorraine as a single parent (finally) and raising her daughter, with the help of her mother, who turns out to be very successful and a good mother, herself. I loved this book and I am taking it to one of my "Sweet By and By" friends this afternoon. This book will not disappoint.
MinnesotaReader More than 1 year ago
Todd Johnson has beautifully written a deeply touching story about the poignancy of growing old and the gift of unlikely friendships. In a North Carolina nursing home, two residents, bossy Margaret and addled Bernice, develop a life-changing friendship. Lovingly caring for them is their churchgoing nurse, Lorraine, and troubled hairdresser, Rhonda. These women, along with Lorraine's ambitious daughter, April, share their engaging stories in alternating chapters. Mr. Johnson is a truly talented storyteller who has eloquently captured both the essence of aging and the charm of southern women. He has brilliantly created a compelling story with endearing characters, who are each thoughtfully and beautifully portrayed. Narration through the voices of each character gives the story a deeper perspective of their lives and shared experiences. But most remarkable was his characters' depiction of compassion and patience. He demonstrates a valuable lesson for us all to be more loving and sensitive to the needs of others. I absolutely loved this wonderfully heartwarming story and I definitely recommended it for everyone!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"The Sweet By and By" reminded me some of "Steel Magnolias". In fact, I tried to picture who could play each part if it was ever made into a movie. I like the way it jumped ahead in years for each character instead of detailing everything that happened in their lives - just the high points and important parts. It was a very quick-read and most enjoyable.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are far too few enjoyable reads about getting very old. The author wove a story with deep insight into the complicated lives of elder women whose minds may be slipping a little (or a lot) but making them worthwhile, lovable people. I will read this again!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is right up there with The Help. I am a fussy reader and something has to catch me to get me to read the book. This had great ratings, so I took the plunge and I am so glad that I did. It is a sweet, sentimental, make you think type of book, with such wonderfully made up characters. I didn't want it to end. It will make you think twice when you see an old person, which we all become sooner or later.
harstan More than 1 year ago
At the Ridgecrest Nursing Center in rural North Carolina, life is repetitively dull everyday for the residents, who wait to die. However, two of them, steel magnolia Margaret Clayton and country music fan Bernice Stokes meet and becomes friends though the former is witty and the latter is incoherent for the most part. They become the dynamic duo nuking every rule. Their church-going nurse Lorraine watches over the pair closely while protecting them from any real trouble from the brass although she knows the devilish women enjoy stirring her juices. Lorraine's daughter April attends medical school, but relishes the antics of the two BFFs; as does Rhonda the beautician who does their hair on her off days. This is an entertaining character study of women bonding although they are from different walks of life and three generations. Rotating perspective between the fearsome five female friends, readers get to know each of the protagonists. Fans who appreciate a wonderful character driven saga that reminds readers what life is all about will relish a visit to Ridgecrest as The Sweet By and By is friendship. Harriet Klausner
WebsterAH More than 1 year ago
If you are one of those folks who finds themselves often underlining particularly good quotes form books you read then this book is for you. You could probably not even enjoy the story and still felt yo got you monies worth! That said this is a touch story filled with a lifetime few wisdom. The setting is a nursing home and the four main characters are believable It is particularly uplifting because it demonstrates that life lived in a nursing home doesn't need to be empty. What surprised me the most is that this book was written by a man. I still can't believe it. It is as if he got in a woman's brain. Though i would recommend this book to anyone who likes books that develop characters well, I would particularly recommend this to those who have older parents or relatives in a nursing home or those in the healthcare profession. I am sure they will find it particularly noteworthy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book club selection. Great discussion points. The characters jump off the pages into real life.
lukal More than 1 year ago
This is truly a unique book. I have never read anything like it. This gives one a better understanding of what life would be like in a nursing home. The characters are lovable.
Ann Munn More than 1 year ago
Amazing perspective by a man about women and their relationships. My new favorite book!
Caryl More than 1 year ago
I can't say enough about this book. The story, the characters, the writing - all terrific. You won't be disappointed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A must read for all. This book touched my heart so. One of my all-time favorites. After recently reading The Help, and Sarah's Key, I thought I wouldn't find a book I loved as much as those. I was pleasantly surprised!
SemperGumby More than 1 year ago
Todd Johnson is a genious. He has to be one of the best Southern writers out there. I loved the story line, the characters, the plot, the everything about this book. I got it from the library but I will purchase it to add it to my collection. It's a book you want to keep. Very hard to put down, you just want to keep reading so you can find out what happens next. :)
Jules3 More than 1 year ago
I would give this book 10 stars. It was so thought-provoking and full of wisdom. It was also funny at times and I feel like I have known all of these women at some time in my life. We should all be so fortunate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So good I guess I wanted to read it twice because I ordered it and when I started reading it I realized I'd alread read it!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you want to read a book with sweet characters this one is for you. The main characters live or work at a nursing home. This book shows it is never too late to make friends. Sometimes the ones you meet later in life are the ones you need the most. Just an all around sweet book just like the title.
Marschajew More than 1 year ago
A wonderful story for the young and old.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was our first selection for Book Club this year. My friends and I loved the story and each of us identified with a character. Very easy read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
VirtuousWomanKF More than 1 year ago
Cute and endearing story. Loved Margaret and her sassy personality, made me laugh despite her circumstance. Very sad sorry, but one that really makes you think about those in nursing homes, lives forgotten. Parts of the book were very slow, but the vivid characters made me want to continue on and finish their story.