The sweat taste of a cherry popsicle on a hot sweaty afternoon in the summer takes you back to carefree days as an elementary student. Little did you know that as the sugary treat was consumed that it would signal an end to the unencumbered freedom of these afternoons. The endless days give way to the tensions and struggles of junior high and the relentless pressure to be 'in' and to keep from falling off the precarious, enviable perch of popularity.
Author Jenny Han guides us through this transformation from 6th grade to 7th, giving us the first person account of Annemarie Wilcox, or affectionately 'Shug'. Shug bares her soul in ways she cannot with her family and friends, as her friendships weather the inevitable storm of middle school. Shug has you wanting things to work out with her childhood friend Mark, as her interest in him morphs into romantic feelings. Shug has you yearning for a spot with the in crowd, as you experience pangs of regret for who she must reject to stay there. Shug has you aching for her, as she unapologetically states how her family clings to dreams and seeks to find meaning in the world.
Most of all, Shug, without whining, gives you a glimpse into her world in an honest forthright manner.
This is a book as memorable as the popsicle on the cover, and after finishing off the last page, you will find the faint taste of cherry popsicle lingering on your tongue.