Sweet Eyes


Sweet Eyes is the wondrous story of the young woman Honey Parrish, who becomes involved in an interracial love affair and struggles to solve longstanding mysteries in her hometown and to move beyond her family’s troubled past.
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Sweet Eyes is the wondrous story of the young woman Honey Parrish, who becomes involved in an interracial love affair and struggles to solve longstanding mysteries in her hometown and to move beyond her family’s troubled past.
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Editorial Reviews

Charlotte Observer
“Sizzles and oozes like hot asphalt. . . . [A] funny and street-smart memoir.”—Charlotte Observer
Chicago Tribune
“This is a multileveled and sensitive novel about victimization and the struggle to defeat it. . . . [Agee] clearly shows herself to be a significant new novelist.”—Chicago Tribune
Philadelphia Inquirer
“A big, complicated book about small-town life, in the great American tradition of Faulkner, Willa Cather, and Sherwood Anderson." —Philadelphia Inquirer
New York Times Book Review
"Physical closeness to the natural world underscores all the best imagery in Sweet Eyes. . . . Ms. Agee is a gifted poet of that dark lushness in the heart of the American landscape."—New York Times Book Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Honey Parrish of Divinity, Iowa, drinks too much, sleeps around and talks to her dead lover. As Agee ( Bend This Heart ) describes her in this richly textured first novel, Honey is a woman drifting toward madness while searching for something that will anchor her to safety.The main cause of her wavering reason is Honey's dysfunctional WASP family, including an abusive father, a psychotic brother called Sonny Boy and a 300-pound sister oddly named Baby. Honey is also plagued by the voice of Clinton, her dead lover, until Jasper Johnson comes along. Johnson, the ``sweet eyes'' of the title, is the town's only black man. His tempestuous affair with Honey is the spark that fires a smoldering racism in the community, spearheaded by Sonny Boy. Fearing that her brother's bigotry caused the death of a young black woman 15 years earlier, Honey launches a painful search for the truth. When she learns the killer's identity, she begins to lose her mind. It is Jasper's love, awakening her self-respect, that saves Honey. Her sense of self-worth also helps her to mete out a kind of justice to the murderer. While Agee demonstrates that the roots of psychosis and violence often start within the family, she also makes a case for the family's importance--and for the necessity of self-esteem--writing with fearless precision and evocative detail. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Honey Parrish lives in the small town of Divinity, Iowa, which is populated with a gallery of characters who could have walked out of a Eudora Welty novel. When Honey has an affair with Jasper Johnson, a black man, she provokes anger and resentment masking an unsolved murder that happened years before. Honey is thus pushed toward a discovery of the truth behind the mystery--a truth linked to her own fragile identity. The first-person narration lends immediacy to the novel and encourages the reader to identify with Honey. Agee has a fine ear for dialog, and the pacing of this novel is sure. It is also fun to read, with prose as clean as the edge of a new spade. Sweet Eyes credibly seeks out particular qualities and flaws in human nature and reveals human dilemmas common to all. Fans of Bobbie Ann Mason will especially appreciate this local-color novel.-- Francis Poole, Univ. of Delaware, Newark
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803259485
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 405
  • Product dimensions: 0.86 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonis Agee is a professor of English and creative writing at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. She is the author of several books, including Strange Angels, South of Resurrection, The Weight of Dreams, and Acts of Love on Indigo Road: New and Selected Stories.
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