Shug by Jenny Han

shug by jenny han

Shug is clever and brave and true (on the inside, anyway). And she’s about to become your new best friend.

Annemarie Wilcox, or Shug as her family calls her, is beginning to think there’s nothing worse than being twelve. She’s too tall, too freckled, and way too flat-chested. Shug is sure that there’s not one good or amazing thing about her. And now she has to start junior high, where the friends she counts most dear aren’t acting so dear anymore — especially Mark, the boy she’s known her whole life through. Life is growing up all around her, and all Shug wants is for things to be like they used to be. How is a person supposed to prepare for what happens tomorrow when there’s just no figuring out today?

Description taken from Goodreads.


SHUG is a book that isn’t give nearly enough attention. This is one of my favorite middle-grade novels that is simply a slice of life kind of story, nothing more, nothing less. SHUG is about Annemarie growing up and knowing that things aren’t really perfect, but that’s okay. It’s about family, and loving people despite how difficult it is sometimes. I’m sure this all sounds very trite for middle-grade lit, but SHUG is worth a shot.

I think I fell in love with Annemarie and this story first because of how it focuses so much on family in a completely different way than a lot of MG and YA lit. Annemarie knows from the start that her family is kind of skewed. She knows her family is different, and her mother especially has some issues, but she loves them all anyway. Annemarie isn’t one to let a fact of life get her down, and she tries to make the best of things in every part of this story. She knows that what she’s going through sucks, but she keeps on persevering.

The second time around when I read SHUG, I realized how funny this story really is. Littered with humor, the deadpan kind and the bittersweet kind. The dramatic nature of Annemarie’s character really contributes to the humor as well. I thought that the narrative was perfectly matched to Annemarie’s voice as a character and this story in general.

SHUG is a book I would recommend to just about any girl 12 to 14. It’s perfect for middle-grade, but great for YA readers as well. 4.5 stars.

pg count for the hardback: 248

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