April 16, 2007

Cherry Popsicles and Other Treats

A funny-sweet-tender novel about the horror formerly known as junior high, Jenny Han's perfectly poised Shug is my new favorite junior high novel.

One day when she was twelve, Annemarie Wilcox looked up and found out that she knew the perfect boy. After all, Mark was her best, best friend, the boy she'd been hanging around with since sandbox days, eating cherry Popsicles and talking about nothing in particular. For some reason, though, Mark is acting like a dork. He's not tuning in to the clues that Annemarie is throwing down. I mean, how can he help but notice her? Instead, he asks, "Why are you always showing off?" "Why'd you have to say that?"

Then, through a series of completely horrible incidents, 'Shug,' (which her mother calls her after the strong and outrageous woman in The Color Purple) discovers that not only does Mark prefer his longstanding crush on her sixteen-year-old sister, Celia, Mark would rather look at her friend Elaine and make fun of her to Kyle, Hugh and Jack than have anything else to do with her.

Life is awful. And confusing. And funnier than heck at times. Shug discovers that sweet boys can be found in the funniest places -- sometimes just below the nasty-mean-tough exteriors of guys she's hated forever.

She's funny and fearless (at least on the outside!), and after reading her, you'll wish you'd gone to junior high with super special Shug.

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