Shug (short for Sugar; real name AnneMarie) has lived in smalltown Southern Clementon and been friends with Mark all her life. As she begins seventh grade, her feelings for Mark have morphed from friendship to romantic interest. The book starts with Shug waiting for him to kiss her--the moment is perfect!--but Mark doesn't seem to realize what's supposed to happen. Shug's convinced that she and Mark will end up together eventually. But nothing is going to plan. Junior high is changing everything, not just her comfortable friendship with Mark, but all her social expectations. How is she supposed to live up to her beautiful mother and perfect sister when she's too tall, flat-chested, and lacking in the looks department? Not to mention, her parents might be on the brink of a divorce. And is her best friend growing distant now that she's got herself a boyfriend?
Jenny Han is amazing. She's captured it perfectly--that junior high feeling, moments of excitement laced with overwhelming feelings of inferiority; romantic feelings laced with frustration; the desire for everything to change and the need for everything to remain exactly as it's been your whole life. Reading Shug I felt like I was being transported back to the psyche of my junior high self. Han's writing is so authentic and such fun to read. I couldn't believe this was her first novel. If her first novel was this good, I really need to check out her later novels, the ones we shelve in the teen department.
I wholeheartedly recommend Shug, whether you're in junior high, high school, or older.