Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Shug - Jenny Han

Summary:  I look at him, really look at him.  We have sat under this tree, our tree, a hundred times or more, and he's always been the same Mark...But today, in this very moment, he is different, and it's not even something I can explain.  But I feel it, boy do I feel it.

Annemarie Wilcox, or Shug as her family calls her, is beginning to think there's nothing worse than being twelve.  She's too tall, too freckled, and way too flat-chested.  Shug is sure that there's not one good or amazing thing about her.  And now she has to start junior high, where the friends she holds dear aren't acting so dear anymore--especially Mark...  (Summary from back of the book and image from http://www.pagesandplaces.org/)

My ReviewReading this book felt like going back in time.  Shug's middle school experience wasn't identical to mine, but her insecurities and the social scene were as close as any I've ever read before.  It was painful.  I found myself at the end of the book with tears in my eyes as I relived moments I'd forgotten I'd gone through.  Shug's emotions and perspective of life in junior high are authentic.

What makes Shug's experience even harder were the family problems she endured in addition to her awkward adjustments to a new phase of life.  Her mother, an embarrassing drunk, her father, a non-existent dad, and her sister, Celia, little miss-perfect, all add to Shug's feelings of inadequacy.  In middle school people use everything they can to drag you down, things they shouldn't consider using as weapons: like information about your parents fighting.  Watching Shug juggle her parents' issues, her own insecurities, and combine that with the thoughtlessness of boys at that age and its prime material for conflict and drama.  Thankfully, Shug dislikes drama and avoids it as much as she can.

Han makes characters so 3-dimensional. It's hard to believe they're not real.  Each person has amazing attributes and hideous or pathetic faults.  I wonder how much of this book is based on real people, real experiences.

If you're a parent of an early teen, or work with teens regularly, this book is a great window to a world we've all (thankfully) forgotten.  I hope your families aren't as dysfunctional, but if they are this book helps an adult see a teen's perspective.

My Rating:  4 Stars

Sum it up: A realistic portrayal of teenage angst adjusting to life in junior high-so spot on with emotions and depictions of kids it hurts.

1 comment:

KKTaylor said...

I loveeee this book. So much! It is such a great read! <3

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