Read The Sweet By and By by ToddJohnson Online


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 neverMeet 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....

Title : The Sweet By and By
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780061579516
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Sweet By and By Reviews

  • Linda Day
    2019-04-29 10:11

    Oh, how I loved this book ! I know it is not meant for everyone, but if you have a fondness for the elderly, especially for Nursing Home elderly, you are gonna love it, too !I laughed until the tears rolled down my cheeks; I cried until I couldn't see the page; I fell in love with the five main characters who tell their stories until they were so real I wondered what they are doing now.I applaud you, Todd Johnson, for venturing into such a place as a Nursing Home where Margaret and Bernice live, and Lorraine and Rhonda work, and where April receives her second-hand blessings and making us forget the smell and the unpleasantness, and take in the understanding that if there is one thing that is certain, it is that we all are gonna get old. How I loved this book !

  • Nikki
    2019-05-02 09:07

    If I could give 3.5 stars, I would. I can't, so I'm defaulting to 3. I will say that the writing in this book was exquisite. There were some incredibly poignant lines of prose in this book, and Todd Johnson is undoubtedly to be commended for that. Beautiful!That being said, I just didn't come away from this book feeling as connected to these women as I had thought. The book initially drew me in (another kudos to the amazing prose), but it never brought me further. There was suggestion of strong and meaningful relationships between these women, but it was mostly a suggestion. The story jumped forward in time so rapidly for me that I never felt the connection build. I'll use Rhonda as an example. She talks about the amazing love and friendship that she has built with Margaret and Bernice and how it allows her to open herself to excepting love, but you never really "see" it, or I didn't. I saw a couple of scenes of her doing their hair, then BAM she's married. I expected a bigger building of the relationships, her slowly unfolding in the light of their interest in her (as a foil to her own grandmother's lack of love and interest), and a progression of her relationship with Mike as she begins to open her heart up. Instead, all of this was very rapidly implied.This tended to be the way most of the storyline worked. Instead of drawing the story out, it was implied in favor of character vignettes. With the exception of Lorraine and Margaret's relationship, I felt like I was just being asked to assume the women had grown close.Based on the stellar ratings that everyone else gives this book, I'm probably very alone out there, but I just felt like this was a little disjointed for me. Beautiful writing though...beautiful.

  • Rachel
    2019-05-10 13:03

    I found this gem of a book at the Good Will store the other night and while I barely glanced at the blurb, I just thought I'd heard about it somewhere and picked it up. I read it in one and half days. It's that delicious. It's exactly the kind of read I need right now while my Dad is in the nursing home. It really is a gem. You would think the premise of the book would be depressing because no one likes to talk about growing old and becoming dependent on others and no one wants to admit that either. Death should not be a messy business. It should be quiet and peaceful and definitely to happen in the twilight years. This book is about Lorraine, a LPN who takes care of the people in the nursing home. Then there's Margaret, a resident who lives there and her friend Bernice, who seems to be crazy. Then there's Rhonda, the local beautican who comes in once a week to do their hair. There's April, Lorraine's daughter who tells her side of the story as well. Their lives all entertwined through the days and while it is a bittersweet story, it really is about life affirming life and yes, death is part of the days, but the author presented it in a graceful way. It happens. It is going to happen and this story is just delightful.

  • Carole
    2019-05-13 08:15

    4.5 stars This is a first time author, a man who knows how to write women's characters. I loved the 5 women of this story, especially Lorraine, the care giver at a nursing home. I enjoyed her spunk, admired her faith, and the closeness she had both to God, & the dear ladies she deeply cared for. This a fun novel, but also touches on the aging process, and it taught me more about compassion. I would recommend this if you like women's fiction, and have a Grandma you miss.

  • Nancy Carty Lepri
    2019-05-17 13:01

    This is a "must read" book. Debut novel by Todd Johnson is not to be missed. It tells the tale of five southern women and how this separate lives mesh together. Characters include: Margaret Clayton, fiesty, sharp-as-a-tack, ninety-year-old woman in a nursing home; Bernice Stokes, short on memory due to grief and old age and befriended by Margaret; LPN African American Lorraine who cares for the residents of the nursing home and has suffered a hard life but is a God-fearing woman who believes anyone at any age and stage of illness deserves respect; April, Lorraine's highly intelligent daughter, who is working hard at becoming a physician; and finally, Rhonda, the hair dresser who comes to the nursing home once and week and who has never have love or acceptance in her life. These five women share an unlikely bond that will have you laughing, crying and shaking your head. Though old age and death and main topics, Mr. Johnson has handled them with aplomb and dignity. The characters are vividly depicted, NC vernacular right on the mark and topic wonderfully addressed. This story will stay with you long after you have turned the last page. I definite keeper!

  • Sharon
    2019-05-19 13:09

    This is such a profound book on so many levels that everyone should read it. One astonishing fact is that the author is a male, writing about females with exquisite sensitivity and insight, and not just any females -- elderly females and a couple younger ones. The book is written from the viewpoints of the 5 main characters: two aging women in a nursing home, their main caregiver, a hairdresser who works part time at the nursing home, and the daughter of the caregiver. No, this may not sound like exquisite reading but it is. Todd Johnson is a master of words. This story may change how you think about old age and other ages as well. It may change how you treat people and what you decide to do sometimes. The story is charming, funny, sad, upbeat, revealing, and profound. And it's oh so real.I hope this author writes many more books.

  • Louise
    2019-05-07 12:19

    Wow, what a fantastic story of 5 women of different ages and from very different backgrounds whose lives come together in a journey of courage, hope, and humour.You'll fall in love with the characters. Lorraine, a church-going, God-questioning nurse, befriends Margaret and Bernice in the old age home she works at. April, Lorraine's daughter struggles her way through medical school. Rhonda, the beer drinking hairdresser comes in and does the ladies hair on her days off and has a sassy way of talking. And Bernice, who drags around her doll 'Mr. Benny' ends up with heartbreak when she loses him in a drastic fire in a bbq!!! LOLIf this was ever a "permanent collection" novel to be kept to be read and read again, then for me anyway, this is it!!! I haven't enjoyed a novel as much as this one in a loooong time!!!!

  • Sandy
    2019-05-05 08:22

    How can a male author create such authentic female characters? Of the five female voices that tell this story, four of them specifically stole my heart right from the beginning. Bernice and Margaret have the most heartwarming relationship in a North Carolina nursing home where Lorraine works as a nurse's aide. Rhonda, reluctantly at first, spends one day a week with the residents as their hairdresser, and comes to lose her heart to Bernice and Margaret. I laughed out loud at the antics of the country-music loving Bernice who seems to not be quite with the real world and the proper Southern lady Margaret. But know that there will be tears before you finish this wonderfully engaging novel. I unfalteringly love southern novels, but I think this one deserves my love.

  • Marlo
    2019-05-23 10:21

    Slow-moving, some language, and not a worldview I subscribe to, but there are some gems in here about growing older and the benefits of intergenerational relationships. My favorite thought, "Watching them, I could believe in life, and God, seeing in them that age could be fashioned into a gold crown in the hands of love. And I could be assured that my mother's wonder had rooted itself in me, so deeply that I would feel her presence always, in the dignity she bestowed as carelessly as rainwater or falling stars."The characters are likeable and their stories believable. My biggest complaint is the often abrupt changes in time that were difficult to follow, and the story sometimes was a bit sluggish, but when examining relationships and thoughts, that is often the case.

  • John Zenoni
    2019-05-25 05:14

    I absolutely loved this book! You can tell that the author loved the developing of the characters and their stories and lives. This book has got some of the best oneliners I have read in a long time and I will soon not forget. I cannot tell you the last time I have laughed out loud at a book like this one. The timing of my reading this book is also significant based on personal things going on in my life. This book is a true keeper and one that is highly recommended. Thank you to the author for a wonderful book and to my book club friend for selecting it.

  • Jen Donnelly
    2019-05-04 12:59

    I loved this book! It's so beautifully written...from the perspective of several different characters. Characters I completely fell in love with! I think it might have had special meaning to me because it's based around a North Carolina nursing that sounded so much like where my Nanny & Poppy spent their last years. I highly recommend you read this very sweet story!

  • Carol
    2019-04-30 08:09

    What a journey!!! Todd Johnson draws you into Margret's life inside a retirement/nursing home. You are filled with laughter, sadness, and respect for each character. This is an insightful, easy paced book. I enjoyed it!!!

  • Gina
    2019-05-13 13:11

    Four and a half stars- great story. I enjoyed the characters and the sweet story line.

  • TJ
    2019-05-11 09:19

    Couldn't get into it. Too saccharine and badly written

  • Kasia
    2019-05-02 09:22

    This book was such a pleasant surprise, I had no idea the story takes place in a retirement home, not that it diminishes the enjoyment, I simply haven't read books with that background before even though I'm well familiar with such a place. My favorite character, really witty and hilarious Margaret made this book a real pleasure to read, I simply couldn't wait to get back into it, to see what she would reveal to me as her days pass by. Living in a place where holidays are depressing she befriends Bernice and watches over her friend while trying to deal with her own aging body and mind. The ladies get into all sorts of innocent trouble but all under a watchful eye of a nurse who has a heart of gold. When a hair dresser gets hired to help out with the overall feeling of happiness in the place, unusual bonds and friendships start up with people she thought she had very little in common with.Bernice and Margaret's youth is revisited in stories and they realize that their future is shaped by their past. People whose parents are in the home remember meeting them when they were just kids and suddenly remember the old days gone by, sweet and little sorrowful the novel is heartwarming and actually really funny in parts, that just proves that good humor and wonderful story telling doesn't stop with books about your people, everyone has a story to tell and time only adds more flavor.

  • Staci
    2019-04-26 08:20

    I have to admit that when I first started to read this book I was a bit confused as to the structure and what exactly was going on with the story. After the first couple of chapters I realized that this was a version of good ol' Southern storytelling. There isn't really a plot, per se...but instead a glimpse into the lives of five women whose paths have crossed because of a nursing home. Two women work in the nursing home and two women live in the nursing home. Each woman gets the opportunity to tell their story in alternating chapters. I found the cadence of their speech to be pleasing and soothing. I couldn't help but compare their way of talking to my own Grandpa Bill Brown's. When he got into story mode about growing up in Kentucky, we would all stop, drop, and listen. What I really took away from this book is that no matter your age or situation in life, you still have something to contribute. I learned this lesson firsthand when I worked in a nursing home during my teen years. I worked as fast as I could so that I could get down to the "smoking room" to visit with two of my favorite residents. Their stories were great and gave me a glimpse as to who they were as young adults. Directions for reading: grab a comfortable rocker on the front porch, pour a glass of lemonade, put up a do not disturb sign and immerse yourself in the sweet goodness of southern writing.

  • Lizzy
    2019-05-22 07:14

    This review was written by Mary Dunn Siedow and posted by Lizzy MotternThe voices of women tell this story of five women’s relationships with family and friends. Margaret and Bernice are residents of a nursing home where Lorraine is a nursing assistant. Margaret is an upper class white woman with a sharp mind, a quick wit and a decaying body. Lorraine, who is black, respects her patients and treats them with sassy tongued dignity. Margaret and Lorraine have an edgy relationship, each ordering the other around. Despite their verbal sparring, the two protect Bernice who is clearly suffering from dementia and whose constant companion, a stuffed monkey called Benny, is a surrogate for her son Benjamin Wade. Rhonda, the ditzy hairdresser who comes in occasionally, doesn’t tell anyone that she knew Benjamin Wade before his death in a car accident; her shop is a safe haven for residents to share their secrets. Lorraine’s daughter April doesn’t quite approve of what she sees as her mother’s servile role until she herself matures and understands the deep regard between Lorraine and the nursing home residents. By telling the story through the voices of Margaret, Lorraine, Rhonda and April, North Carolina born author Todd Johnson tantalizes readers, revealing events in tiny glimpses into his characters and their feelings.

  • Jackie
    2019-05-11 05:18

    I had decided not to read this book. It looked like another "chick-lit" that was just going to be sappy. How glad I am that I changed my mind.This was one of those little narratives without really a plot, just an account of the intertwining of a few women's lives in North Carolina. A sweet description that ends up being more (in my mind) of a celebration of the cycle of life, and those relationships that define us through to the end. Mr. Johnson has a talent for the use of words that reach into your heart and play the melodies that reside there. I found myself reading whole paragraphs aloud to my (ever patient) husband. If I owned this book instead of borrowing it from the library it would be colored with the highlighting I would do of passages I wanted to remember. I think this book came along for me at just the right time, as I watch the decline of my own mother's health and lucidity. I hope she has caregivers as kind and tolerant as Lorraine.One of my favorite sentences: ...I'm tired of what passes as tradition to keep us from thinking about what we like, or to make us feel guilty for being different." There are lots of similar lessons in this book. I'll be thinking of this one for a while.

  • Shawn
    2019-05-13 10:05

    As close to perfect a debut novel as you're likely to find. In addition to stellar writing, the author captured the voices of these female characters perfectly. My book group had one of our most engaging discussions with this book. After our discussion, we listened to Dolly Parton's rendition of "The Sweet By and By". Oddly enough, it made Me appreciate the book anew. It so happens that the author, Todd Johnson, contacted the local, independent bookstore where our group meets, and offered to send us signed bookplates upon learning that we'd be featuring his book. A few email exchanges convinced Me that he is as gracious and kind as he is a brilliant writer. I understand he has a new book in the works, and I cannot wait to read it. He is well on his way to having "Nick Hornby/Stewart O'Nan Status" with Me -- Authors incapable of producing anything less than incredible writing. Do yourself a favor and read this one.

  • Chris
    2019-05-09 09:08

    The various characters were interesting and their "voices" seemed authentic despite the fact they were all female and the author is a guy. I found it terribly depressing even though the ending was attempting to be upbeat and non-sectarian, religion-wise. I’m just too close in age to the ladies who live in the retirement home in this book. It was too easy to picture myself a resident, too. I only hope there really are employees that are as kind, and selfless as the aide, hairdresser and doctor in this book. Sadly, I have a much different and negative stereotype in my head regarding homes for the aged.It was well written and I’d recommend it – if you can get past the probability that you might end up in a very different type of community when you get to that age.

  • NancyG
    2019-05-04 10:02

    If there were a 4 1/2 star rating that is what I would give this lovely, sweet, poignant story about 5 women and a nursing home: Lorraine, loving African-American nurses aide; April, her med school daughter, Lorraine's 2 principal patients and beloved friends Margaret and Bernice (who can forget the stuffed monkey, Mr. Bernie) and Rhonda who cuts hair at the nursing home. If anyone had told me a man was capable of writing such a beatiful story as this I would have scoffed but he did (must have been his Yale divinity degree that helped him get in touch with his feminine side) and a debut novel to boot. I fell in love with the characters and it made me reflect on the lives of those living in nursing homes. I was enriched by reading this book and look forward to his next one.

  • Michele
    2019-05-04 12:01

    This was a very well written book that I devoured in two days. However it is too sad to recommend. Its about the lives of 5 Southern women. Two are in a nursing home at the end of their lives, two are young women in the beginning of their adult lives and the last is in the middle age bracket. To me, a good book, 1. makes me think about it for the next week after I have finished it and 2. makes me not want to start another book immediately so I can savor it. 3. Doesn't make me sad. Well...2 out of 3 were met with this one!

  • Sherry H
    2019-05-13 09:59

    This is a lovely, quiet, Southern novel filled with strong women who support one another through the trials of illness and aging and grief.I am reminded of the strong, supportive women who cared for my mom during her final days; God bless them.I love that these women found connections with one another, crossing barriers of race, religion, social status, health/mental health, etc... it was kind of beautiful. I am so impressed that this male author wrote these women so beautifully.

  • Dina
    2019-05-27 08:01

    Coping with aging parents myself I enjoyed this portrayal of the lives of women in and involved with a nursing home--one of the aides who loves as well as tends her frail and sometimes senile patients, the woman who patiently does the residents' hair on her day off, two friends who reside in the home, and one of their daughters. It was good to be reminded of the respect and love the elderly should be given--and some ways to show it.

  • Donna Walters
    2019-05-14 10:17

    A simple book that spans the lives of 4 main characters. It reminded me some of Steel Magnolias in a nursing home setting. Being a nurse I could definitely relate to Lorrane. The middle was a little slow without any major events happening but isn't that how life is sometimes? Certainly a great first novel for Todd Johnson. His rendition of The Color Purple on Broadway hit it out of the park and drew me to read this book.

  • Marilyn
    2019-05-20 10:03

    I listened to Todd Johnson's 'The Sweet By and By' while driving to Minnesota and was touched, entertained and impressed with the author's first novel. Three residents of a nursing home, one nurse, and their hairdresser form an unlikely bond drawing the reader / listener into the realities of growing old and the ladies realization of their inevitable demise. Sweetly written, Sweetly told, Sweetly shared with the masses.

  • Patricia Williams
    2019-04-26 10:58

    This was a really sweet story about love and friendship between women. My book club read this book and we all enjoyed it. The characters are wonderful and very real. It is just a little short story about these people's lives but there is so much wisdom in the story. Definitely recommend.

  • Ksroat
    2019-05-13 08:56

    For a first novel this one is terrific. It has a wonderful rythm to the story. I would rate this book as one of my top 10. It will touch the soul of anyone who has watched a love one die,: and it will open your eyes to what it must feel like to grow old.

  • Mary (BookHounds)
    2019-04-28 13:05

    I loved this book! This is what "The Help" should have been. Although not as historical as "The Help", this thoroughly captivated me and had the underlining current of classism in the South. Excellent dialogue and well drawn characters kept me turning the pages.

  • Margaret
    2019-05-13 08:06

    I found it to be interesting. I had recently observed people likethe characters when my Dad was in a nursing home. Todd Johnson understands these women and finds the humor, emotions, and attitudes toward death and dying which seem accurate to me.