Sugar - Deirdre Riordan Hall
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.
Admittedly, when I started the book I wasn't sure if I was going to like it. Admittedly, this book took me awhile to finish because for awhile it was just so easy to set down and not feel emotionally pulled into it. I will tell you that I set the book down after a marathon reading session, and when I picked it up again the next day I was so very thankful I stopped when I did because the last third of the book I was full on ugly crying and I would have not gone to bed the night of my marathon reading session. I'm not even kidding you when I tell you that all of us, in some way, can see ourselves in Sugar.
Sugar is a high school girl who so happens to have some of the worst self esteem but she's also fat. Her mother is morbidly, bed ridden obese and Sugar is basically a slave to her mother. Constantly having to bring her food, soda, do various things for her, etc. Not that her mother is appreciative, instead she is verbally and emotionally abusive to Sugar but Sugar doesn't even recognize it. Her older brother Skunk, is a total asshole who is far more cruel to Sugar. He's verbally and emotionally abusive but he's also physically abusive. Sugar's oldest brother, Fat Henry, has moved away and gotten more fit over the years but it doesn't seem like she is close to him at all.
So while her home life is absolutely awful, school is even worse. Kids are horribly cruel, as you can imagine, but Sugar holds it together. You just feel so awful for Sugar because her life is truly awful.
Then she meets Even.
Even is new to school, he's attractive, he has the potential to be the popular guy on campus because of his looks alone, but he takes a liking to Sugar. At first she believes it to be another cruel prank set into motion by classmates, but over time she realizes that Even actually likes her for her. Just as things seem to be turning around for Sugar, absolute tragedy happens and you will ugly cry. You will. If you don't, you don't have a soul. The last third of this book was just everything for me. The author writes in a stunningly beautiful way that you feel like you were Sugar at some point. Honestly, the author must be a reformed fat girl because I don't know how she would have captured the exact self talk that Sugar does so perfectly.
I'll admit, I have terrible self talk. It's really awful and I'm ashamed to even admit it. I struggle with weight and some days I want to throw the towel in and just say screw it- being fat isn't that bad. But then I realize how terrible I feel and how I don't want to feel that way anymore but it means making some really hard, and sometimes scary, changes. To say I identified with Sugar and her emotional over eating is an understatement.
I loved this book so much that I absolutely could not give it less than five stars. I can't. It's sad, it's enlightening, it's emotional, it's hopeful. It's everything you want when you need a book to give you every emotion there is. I'm telling you right now, order this book and just love it. You can order it through Barnes & Noble and Amazon. You can also follow the author on her webpage or on Twitter.