BETHANY, W.Va. – Pittsburgh-based author Marisel Vera will discuss her latest book, “The Taste of Sugar,” during a digital event hosted by Bethany College.

Author Marisel Vera

Photo by Wes Carrasquillo

The event is at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, March 16, via Zoom and Facebook Live.

Set in the late 1890s as Puerto Rico on the eve of the Spanish-American War, “The Taste of Sugar” is told through the lens of two families, particularly Vicente Vega and his bride, Valentina Sanchez, who are working to save the family’s coffee farm. Throughout the story, Valentina evolves from a starry-eyed teenager to a fiercely dedicated wife, mother, and friend in a struggle for survival.

The novel, published in June through Liveright Publishing, is rich in historical detail as Vera outlines the island’s suffering – drought, taxes, hurricane – over the years and its colonial history with the United States.

The Taste of SugarCalled a “Latino ‘Grapes of Wrath’” by Ron Charles of the Washington Post, “The Taste of Sugar” was named to best of 2020 lists by the Post, NBC News, and Latino Rebels.

“The Taste of Sugar” is Vera’s second novel, following “If I Bring You Roses” in 2011. She is working on her next novel, centered on four Puerto Rican girls growing up in 1970s Chicago.

The event marks a return to Bethany for Vera, who spoke with English students on campus as she was writing “The Taste of Sugar.”


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.