Sugar ARC Review -- Bullying On A Whole Nother Level

Sugar | Deirdre Riordan Hall
Release Date: June 1, 2015 | Skyscape
Genre(s): Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 276
Edition: Finished Paperback + ARC
Source: Publisher
Want To Purchase? -- Amazon

I’m the fat Puerto Rican–Polish girl who doesn’t feel like she belongs in her skin, or anywhere else for that matter. I’ve always been too much and yet not enough.

Sugar Legowski-Gracia 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 run-down home—cooking, shopping, 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 whether to become the girl that Even helps her see within herself or to sink into the darkness of the skin-deep role her family and her life have created for her.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author/publisher. This does not affect my opinion or views regarding the book whatsoever.

My mama always told me that someone's life will always be harder than mine. Of course I knew this was true, and have even witnessed it during my years of growing up and even now, but this book really opened my eyes to just how difficult -- no unbearable, one's life could actually be.

Before starting Sugar, I just knew I had a clear idea of what this story would be centered around. A girl struggling with her weight, meets a cute guy and together they embark on a journey of getting her healthy. While my guess wasn't too far off from hitting the nail on the head, the fraction that I missed, turned out to be more disturbing, foul, and just all around F**KED up, than I could ever have imagined. 

Can you imagine a life full of constant ridicule? A life where you're not only surrounded, but drowning in negativity? I couldn't, and witnessing Sugar become the butt of every joke, the topic of every mocking conversation, was a tough pill to swallow. Not only was she bullied by children at school and in town, but she suffered emotional and physical abuse at home as well, done by her overweight brother, and mother, who is bed-ridden and suffering from diabesity.

 He takes a swig from the can of Pabst that Uncle Bruce brought over and then spits it in my face. Beer mixed with bits of potatoes covers me from head to chest. " How'd you like that? " He asks. He squirts the turkey baster at me and liquid drips down my arm.

 " Bring it here. What Kind? " She asks. " Chocolate with vanilla icing. Your favorite. " I bring it over to her and pull out the paper plate and fork I have on the bottom. As I'm doing so, she stubs her cigarette out in the middle of the frosting. " Mama! " She glares at me then, before I realize what's happening, she takes the back of my head and pushes my face down into the icing. I struggle to get out from beneath her grasp, but she has me by the hair. I twist my head to the side and shout as I wriggle away. " Little Bitch. " She says.

To say her mother and brother were horrible people would be an understatement. I wanted to grab and shake Shoog by her shoulders while yelling " DO SOMETHING! STAND UP FOR YOURSELF ! " But how could she? " Thou Shalt Honor Thy Mother And Thy Father, " and that's exactly what she was doing. Her brother constantly attacked her, throwing knives, kicking her in the face, and she couldn't escape the emotional abuse from her mother either. Just when I thought this story would be nothing but a cloud of depression, in steps Even to brighten the day.

Even Anderson was a breath of fresh air. He was polite, well-mannered, caring, considerate, and ended up being Sugar's only friend. I loved how Even helped to bring out the confidence in Shoog, (the nickname he gave her) and how he eventually became a stepping stone on her path of getting healthy. He didn't care what others thought, and was able to be a true friend because he understood abuse as well. Their friendship was genuine, and I'm grateful that someone was able to the uplifting factor in her once dreadful life.

Sugar is beyond a promising read. It will connect with readers who struggle with the same issues, and give others the insight on what it means to be bullied by peers and family. It was an eye-opening experience for myself, pulling at every emotion I could think of.

You'll be angry, you'll smile at the cuteness that is Even, you'll want to cry, and you'll be so infuriated with this story, that you'd want to toss it across the room. But isn't that what stories are supposed to do? Aren't we supposed to not only witness, but FEEL what the characters are going through? This may not be the best book I've ever read, but it's one that's unforgettable,  one that will definitely stick with me for the long run.

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