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Review: Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall

Title: Sugar
Author: Deirdre Riordan Hall
Year Published: 2014

Genre: YA historical
Pages: 266
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2015 Google Reading map)USA (NH)

FTC Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher

Summary (from the back of the book): Sugar Legowski-Garcia wasn't always fat, but fat is what she is now at age seventeen. Not as fat as her mama, who is so big she hasn't gotten out of bed in months. Not as heavy as her brother, Skunk, who has more meanness in him than fat, which is saying something. But she's large enough to be the object of ridicule wherever she is: at the grocery store, walking down the street, at school. Sugar's life is dictated by taking care of Mama in their rundown home--shopping, cooking, and well, eating. A lot of eating, which Sugar hates as much as she loves.

When Sugar meets Even (not Evan--his nearly illiterate father misspelled his name on the birth certificate), she has the new experience of someone seeing her and not her body. As their unlikely friendship builds, Sugar allows herself to think about the future for the first time, a future not weighed down by her body or her mother. Soon Sugar will have to decide to become the girl Even helps her see beyond the mirror or sink into the darkness of the skin-deep role her family and her life have created for her.

Review: I almost didn't get past the first 30 pages of this book, but I am so glad that I did! While I liked Sugar a lot as a character, the beginning of the book is all about food. What Sugar eats, how she eats it, why she eats it, how she feels when she eats it. It's a lot. But then, the food starts to take a slightly smaller role and we get to know Sugar beyond the food. As the book progresses Sugar as a person with experiences becomes the main focus. The food is still there. It is always there, but I realized half way through the book that that is the exact point. At the start, food is everything to Sugar and so it has to be everything at the beginning of the book.

Even is a wonderful character with problems of his own. In fact, Sugar and Even are vehicles for us to experience what many people live through every day: living with an absent parent; being abused by family members (both physically and emotionally); bullying; drugs and alcohol abuse; friendship; first love; heartache; and elation. I feel I really became invested in Sugar and the direction her life was going. I wanted an adult to reach out to her and help her, to guide her, and to do something about the horrible people in her life and the abuse that is heaped upon her on a daily basis. I won't tell you if that happens, but it is all so well done!

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