Annemarie Wilcoxnicknamed Shug, which is short for sugaris feeling anything
but sweet right now. Shes entering middle school, her parents are constantly
fighting (when theyre not drunk or away for work), and things are changing
between her and her friends. Mairi, Hadley, and even her best friend Elaine, a
Korean American from up north, are eagerly venturing into the world of becoming
a woman and meeting boys. But Annemarie wants nothing to do with that world¬
unless it includes Mark Findley, her childhood best friend and the guy she
recently realizes shes in love with.
Mark doesnt seem to reciprocate her feelings. In fact, Annemarie feels like
she hardly sees him anymore, so busy is he with hanging out with Hadley.
Instead, shes spending a lot of time tutoring Jack Connelly, which is too bad
because theyre sworn enemies and hate each others guts. Annemarie doesnt
want to grow up just yet, but she has to learn the hard way (like we all do)
that its a painful and necessary, sometimes heartbreaking, process with light
at the end of the tunnel.
I love Judy Blume-esque books that
focus on that painfully awkward and difficult transition right before puberty;
thus, I LOVED Shug. This is a story thats full of characters that youll want
to be friends with. Annemarie in particular is a spunky heroine, unafraid to
say her mind, the girl we all remember being back at that age and the girl we
want to befriend.Â The supporting characters, too,
are not caricatures but rather boys and girls (and men and women) with their
own problems. Im especially a fan of Jack right from the start; the dynamics
between Annemarie and Jack are great.
If you want a growing-up novel
thats more Southern than Judy Blumes and less sex-oriented than Phyllis
Reynolds Naylors Alice series, pick up SHUG. You wont regret it.