by Jenny Han
ages: 10+
First sentence: “It is the end of a summer afternoon and the sun will be setting soon, our favorite part of the day.”
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Ah, first love. Generally speaking, I’m pretty jaded about the whole first love thing — especially if it morphs into True Love — but I found this book by Jenny Han to be exceptionally sweet and poignant as it looked at a girls first “real” crush, as well as the bumps and joys of growing up.

Twelve-year-old Annemarie Wilcox — Shug for short — has just realized she’s is in love. Unfortunately, it’s with her best friend, Mark, who increasingly — now that they’ve started the 7th grade — won’t admit that she exists. On top of that, things are getting increasingly worse between her parents, her best friend Elaine has a boyfriend and is spending less time with Shug. Not to mention that she’s being forced (for the sake of a grade) to tutor her mortal enemy. Increasingly, Shug just can’t seem to find where she fits in all of this change.

There is so many things to love about this book, from it’s genuine Southernness (I’m a sucker for Southern books), to the affection Han has for her characters, to Shug’s voice throughout the book. Shug is a charming character, torn between hanging on to childhood and yet entranced by growing up. She’s easy to relate to: everyone has a first crush, and, for me at least, I found the awkwardness Shug has to be completely believable.

In short, Han has captured a perfect slice of pre-teen life. And done it in a quiet, yet completely charming, way.

2 thoughts on “Shug

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