Skip to main content
Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Wedding Gift

The Wedding Gift

A Novel

Marlen Suyapa Bodden

St. Martin's Griffin


The Wall Street Journal bestseller, The Wedding Gift is a captivating historical novel that explores the powerful bonds between a slave girl, her mother, the slave master's wife, and her daughter.

A View’s "Summer 2019 Ladies Get Lit" Pick

In 1852, when prestigious Alabama plantation owner Cornelius Allen gives his daughter Clarissa's hand in marriage, she takes with her a gift: Sarah—her slave and her half-sister. Raised by an educated mother, Clarissa is not the proper Southern belle she appears to be, with ambitions of loving whom she chooses. Sarah equally hides behind the façade of being a docile house slave as she plots to escape.

Both women bring these tumultuous secrets and desires with them to their new home, igniting events that spiral into a tale beyond what you ever imagined possible.

Told through the alternating viewpoints of Sarah and Theodora Allen, Cornelius' wife, Marlen Suyapa Bodden's The Wedding Gift is an intimate portrait of slavery and the 19th Century South that will leave readers breathless.



This chronicle commences with the monarchs of my heart: my mother, the woman who gave me light, and my sister, to whom I clung in dire times. Both were beautiful, with delicate features and dark skin. I, however,...

Praise for The Wedding Gift

“Stunning debut-page- turning-powerful story.” —Publishers Weekly starred review

“A potent debut.” —Good Housekeeping

“An inspiring read for historical-fiction fans.” —Booklist

“Passionate...a good choice for readers who like a fast-paced historical story.” —Library Journal

“Gripping innuendo, mystery, surprise, shrewd insight and murder ...” —Ebony Magazine

“Fascinating, intriguing-a great story!” —Kathleen Grissom, New York Times bestselling author of The Kitchen House

“Powerful and absorbing.” —Diane McKinney-Whetstone, author of Tumbling

“The strength of the novel is its slave narrative tone and its ability to demonstrate the pain of being owned by another human being. Many have heard of slavery; few know this story. It's too important to overlook.” —Daniel Black, author of Twelve Gates to the City


Marlen Suyapa Bodden

MARLEN SUYAPA BODDEN is a lawyer at The Legal Aid Society, the nation's oldest and largest law firm for the poor, in New York City. She drew on her knowledge of modern and historical slavery, human trafficking, and human rights abuses to write The Wedding Gift, her first novel.

image of Marlen Suyapa Boddeno
Donna Callighan

St. Martin's Griffin

Latest on Facebook