Sugar and Spite

Sugar and Spite
Age Range
Release Date
April 20, 2021
Buy This Book
Jolina can't take Claudine's bullying any longer! The taunts and teasing are too much. Though Jolina knows she's still in training to use her grandfather's arbularyo magic, she sneaks into his potions lab to get her revenge. Jolina brews a batch of gayuma, a powerful love potion.

And it works. The love potion conquers Claudine's hateful nature. In fact, Claudine doesn't just stop bullying Jolina -- now she wants to be Jolina's BFF, and does everything and anything Jolina asks.

But magic comes with a cost, and bad intentions beget bad returns. Controlling another person's ability to love -- or hate -- will certainly have consequences. The magic demands payment, and it is about to come for Jolina in the form of a powerful storm...

Magic and reality mingle in this brilliant new middle-grade novel by Gail D. Villanueva that asks whether it's ever okay to take away someone's free will.

Editor review

1 review
Friend drama in the Philippines
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Jolina and her family have moved from Manila to the small island of Isla Pag-Ibig. After the death of her Lola Toyang and a stroke suffered by Lolo Sebyo, her father has taken over the family Bagayan Food Haus, and her mother is a receptionist trainee at a fancy resort in the area. This resort is run by the mother of a girl in Jolina's Bible study class, Claudine. Claudine is very snooty and mean, and Jolina would rather avoid her. When she can't, she decides to try to concoct a potion like her Lolo does. He's a faith healer, and has a vast library and workshop full of spells and supplies. She attempts a love potion that results in yema balls, a type of candy made out of egg yolks and condensed milk. These actually work, and Claudine suddenly wants to be her friend. Soon, Jolina, as well as her Jack Russell terrier, Kidlat, are hanging out at Claudine's fancy house, and being asked to her birthday party, where there is a buffett, magician, and petting zoo! As she begins to enjoy Claudine's company, Jolina feels bad about the spell and asks her grandfather about it. When a typhoon hits the area and everyone must evacuate, Jolina and Claudine have a falling out that has disastrous consequences. Will the two remain friends when the magic no longer holds?
Good Points
I loved the details about life on Jolina's island! The sari sari store, the difference in what outdoors is like (the world is not all maple trees!), and the array of foods I've only read about were all great details. Middle grade readers love these details, since many of them have never lived in or visited other places in the world.

Add to this Jolina's universal difficulties with mean girl Claudine, and sprinkle with a little possible magic, and this was a great combination. Even the cover is appealing, and having a cute cat and dog in the plot doesn't hurt. I especially loved the details about school, and how Jolina has to share a desk with two other students! I would love to see a lot more books written by people who are living in other countries.

Fans of this author's My Fate According to the Butterfly will find this a much happier look at life in the Philippines. This showed some of the struggles of living in that country while incorporating friend drama and a good dollop of magic, making this a good choice for readers of Meriano's Love, Sugar, Magic or Harrison's A Pinch of Magic. I have several students with Filipino backgrounds, and I'm glad to have something happier than Cruz's Everlasting Nora or Erin Entrada Kelly's work to hand them when they want "mirror" books.
Sugar and Spite
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