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Shug Hardcover – May 1, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5-8 At first blush, Shug seems to be a typical contemporary novel about a middle school girl. But Han offers something more with her penetrating observation of Annemarie (Shug) as she becomes more aware of the people around her and of how they differ from her previous perceptions of them. Foremost on the 12-year-old's mind is her best friend since childhood, Mark, on whom she has developed a crush. Then it is her father, who breezes in from his business trips less and less frequently and stays for as little time as possible. Then it is her attractive mother, who reads Foucault and whose criticism of her fellow residents in their small North Carolina town starts to seem less like a matter of clear-eyed appraisal than of alcoholic bitterness. The bad boy whom Annemarie is forced to help with his schoolwork; her not-so-perfectly adjusted older sister; and even her popular new friend, the only Korean-American student in town, all receive reappraisal. Something has awakened in Annemarie, all right, and Han depicts the change with a delicacy and nuance that sets this first novel above the rest of the pack of similar books. This new author bears watching. Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-8. Tall, freckled, gawky seventh-grader Annemarie Wilcox (whose family calls her Shug) has a beautiful, popular older sister; a gorgeous, alcoholic mother who doesn't fit in their small Georgia town; and a father who's always away on business. She also has a huge crush on Mark, the neighborhood boy who has always been her best friend. As the school year starts, Shug must deal with Mark's rejection, her parents' bitter fights, and a falling out with her closest girlfriend. Han's well-crafted first novel captures the aching hurt of exclusion in middle school, and the acute pain of vicious teasing. Shug's direct, honest narration reveals a wholly believable, endearing, hot-tempered young woman who faces painful truths and survives. Shug and Celia are named for characters in Alice Walker's The Color Purple, and Han references that novel with fine effect. It's her skill in evoking colors, tastes, scents, and touch that really stands out, as Shug steps away from childhood and into adolescence, with all her senses ablaze. Debbie Carton
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 680L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (May 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416909427
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416909422
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #724,324 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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#78 in Books > Teens
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on August 22, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Nope. I didn't want to read, "Shug". I just didn't. I took one look at its cool cover and thought it was a piece of YA literature. By and large, as a children's librarian I tend to avoid teen books. It was only when fellow children's librarians (4 or so) insisted that this book would be beloved by kids too that I caved in and picked it up. If ever the world of librarianship is further subdivided into Children's Librarians, YA Librarians, and Tween Librarians, I can tell you right here and now that "Shug" will belong firmly to the latter. Covering everything from a girl's first kiss to getting her period to dealing with the separation of boys and girls once they're hit by the puberty stick, this book is a summarization of adolescence that smacks of truth.

Annemarie a.k.a. Shug, just realized something while sitting on her front porch with her oldest friend, Mark. She loves him. This is a little strange when she considers that she's known the guy practically all her life. Still, there's no denying her current feelings. They just couldn't have come at a worse point in their lives. Once this summer is over, Mark and Annemarie will be entering Junior High for the very first time. Now Annemarie will have to deal with the various school cliques and cruelties. She'll have to face up to the fact that her often drunk mother and too absent father may be having more than their regular marital difficulties. She'll accept that her best friend Elaine has more on her mind these days than regular girl problems. And she'll need to figure out what exactly she's going to do, if anything, about the Mark situation.

It sounds trite. It sounds like its been done before. But the remarkable thing about "Shug" is that it reads like nothing I've ever read.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on May 31, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Annemarie Wilcox, known to her family as Shug, is twelve-years old, tall, flat-chested, and nowhere near the type of girl she wants to be. Shug also believes that, ow that she's twelve, she's at the perfect age to receive her first kiss, and she knows just who she wants to give it to her--her best friend, Mark Findley, the true and actual boy-next-door. Well, actually, the boy down the street, but it's close enough. The only problem is that Mark doesn't show any interest in seeing Shug in the same way she sees him. For Mark, the perfect girl is Celia, Shug's beautiful, popular older sister.

Thus begins the summer of Shug's twelfth year, and it's not going anything like what she had planned. She's suddenly seeing everyone in her life in a totally different way, and she's not so sure that she likes what she sees. Her mother, who she once thought of as deep and sophisticated, now seems the opposite. The North Carolina native who went "up North" to college isn't suave and chic--she's snobby, standoffish, and an alcoholic. Her dad, a businessman who frequently travels away from home, comes home less and less and stays for even shorter amounts of time. Even beautiful Celia, who seems to have the perfect life, seems to be changing right before Shug's eyes.

And then there's Mark, who she's almost given up hope on. Now that she has to help Jack Connelly, the bad boy of her school who has gotten in more trouble than she can name, with his homework, she even finds herself seeing him in a new light. Is he really as bad as everyone thinks? Can people change so significantly in even short amounts of time? And as for Shug, is she really the girl she thought she was?

Reading SHUG is like eating an entire carton of Rocky Road ice cream.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jordan Sonnenblick on May 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I write young adult novels, and I wish I had written _this_ one! Do you know how, when you watch the best tightrope walkers, they make it look so easy you forget they're doing something insanely hard and scary?

Well, Jenny Han is a great tightrope walker, because it's extraordinarily hard to write a breakout, literary young adult novel about daily life. But when you're reading _Shug_, you feel like the book is effortless -- you're simply _there_, in the life of a 12-year-old girl who sees everything.

This book succeeds wildly, both as entertainment and as literature.

Wow . . .
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Park on April 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Jenny Han's debut YA novel is one of the freshest voices I've heard in a long time. Having been a twelve year old girl once herself, she exquisitely captures the complexity, anguish, and joys of coming of age girls, from the first real crush to the awkwardness to the fear of being outcasted by fellow classmates. In a rare moment, her mother tells her, "Shug, if you can't see your own worth, you sure as hell can't expect someone else too" (224). The pages fly by as you anxiously try to find out - will she get the guy? Will he see Shug as Shug? Will Shug see Shug as Shug?

Readers who like An Na's "A Step from Heaven," Kevin Henke's "Olive's Ocean" and Ann Martin's "A Corner of the Universe" will love Shug just as much. Maybe more.

Jenny Han is a STAR. Readers, reach out and grab Shug, for all the 10-14 year olds you know, for your libraries and classrooms, for yourself.
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