Finally! I’ve been reading all these YA novels, and had only found one (Happy Kid) that I could/wanted to use when I booktalk to the seventh graders in the fall. Now, here comes the second for my list, and it’s a great one. Absolutely fantastic, I should say.
I’ve had Shug by Jenny Han since the beginning of May, and I just hadn’t gotten around to it. I had a good feeling about it and wanted to save it for a special day. Today it is hot, but pleasant, the rain of the past week having swept the humidity away. I went outside to enjoy this lovely white book with the red popsicle on the front, and felt like I had just the right book for just the right day. And how right I was.
Annemarie, called Shug by her family, is making the transition from elementary school to middle school and from being a girl to being a girl. One of her best friends is a boy, but suddenly he is looking different to Shug. He looks like a boy. Shug also has to deal with a father who is never around, a mother who drinks too much, and a sister who is way too pretty. She is trying to find her own place and adjust to who she is becoming and who her classmates are becoming. Living in a small southern town, she has known everyone for all of her life. Her parents are from the same town, and they have known everyone all their lives. It makes changes even harder.
Shug is so realistic and so honest. The characters are flawed, but they are all trying to be better people. Shug’s mom makes some mistakes when she has been drinking, but she tries to make up for it later. Shug’s friend Mark has always been good to her, but he doesn’t stand up for her when he should. All of the people in the book have some good and bad about them, and that is what makes it feel so real.
Jenny Han has a website and a blog that look pretty interesting. This is her first novel, and I can bet we’ll be seeing more wonderful things coming down the pike. I personally am hoping to hear more about Shug as this book only covers the first few months of seventh grade, and I feel like I was just getting to know her. The good books always end too soon.