Annemarie “Shug” Wilcox is clever and brave and true (on the inside anyway). And she’s about to become your new best friend in this enchanting middle grade novel from the New York Times bestselling author of To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (soon to be a major motion picture!), Jenny Han.
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...
|Publisher:||Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers|
|Product dimensions:||5.12(w) x 7.62(h) x 0.60(d)|
|Age Range:||9 - 13 Years|
About the Author
Jenny Han is the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series; Shug; the Burn for Burn trilogy, cowritten with Siobhan Vivian; and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You. She is also the author of the chapter book Clara Lee and The Apple Pie Dream. A former children’s bookseller, she earned her MFA in creative writing at the New School. Visit her at DearJennyHan.com.
Read an Excerpt
By Jenny Han
Simon & Schuster Children's PublishingCopyright © 2006 Jenny Han
All right reserved.
It is the end of a summer afternoon and the sun will be setting soon, our favorite part of the day. We're eating Popsicles, cherry ones. My shirt is sticking to my back, and my hands feel sugary and warm, but my lips are cool. The sun is turning that fiery pink I love, and I turn to Mark the way I always do.
I look at him, really look at him. We have sat under this tree, our tree, a hundred times or more, and he's always been the same Mark -- the Mark I have known since we were five years old and I told him my mama was a whole lot prettier than his. But today, at this very moment, he is different, and it's not even something I can explain. But I feel it. Boy, do I feel it. On the outside, everything looks the way it always does, but on the inside, it's like some little part of me is waking up.
His hair is hanging in his eyes, and his skin is brown as toast. He smells the way he always smells in summer -- like green grass and sweat and chlorine. He's watching the sun turn its different colors, and he's all quiet and hushed up. He turns to me and smiles, and in that moment he is so dear to me I hurt inside. That's when I feel it -- like my heart might burst right out of my chest. This is it; this is the exact moment when he is supposed to kiss me, the kind ofmoment movies are made for. He'll look at me, and he'll know, just like I know.
Everybody knows that twelve is the perfect age for your first kiss.
Except, he isn't looking at me anymore. And he's talking; the big jerk is talking when he should be kissing. He's going on about some mountain bike his dad is going to buy him for his birthday. "Man, it's gonna be sweet. We're gonna go on the Tuckashawnee trail -- "
"Hey, Mark," I interrupt. I'm giving him one last chance to make this moment up to me, one last chance to see me the way I see him. I will him to look at me, really look at me. Don't see the mosquito bites on my legs, don't see the ketchup stain on my shorts, or the scabs on my elbows. Don't see the girl you've known your whole life. See me. See me.
"Yeah?" He's looking at me, and he doesn't see me at all. I can tell he's still thinking about that bike and hasn't even thought of kissing me. His mouth is cherry red from his Popsicle. He looks like he's wearing lipstick.
"You look like you're wearing lipstick," I say. "You look like a girl. A girl with really bad taste." I laugh like it's the funniest thing in the world.
He flushes. "Shut up, Annemarie," he says, wiping away at his mouth furiously.
"I bet Celia has some eye shadow that would look terrif with that lipstick," I continue. Celia is my big sister, and probably the prettiest girl in our town, maybe even the state.
Mark glares at me. "You're just jealous because Celia's prettier than you."
I bite my lip. "You should let Celia give you a makeover," I say. My eyes are starting to burn. When the two of us get started we don't quit until one of us leaves crying. Usually it's Mark, but this time I am afraid it will be me.
Please, please don't let it be me.
"You're the one who could use a makeover," Mark says cruelly.
"You are really ignorant, Mark, you know that? You're a real troglodyte. You're so ignorant, I bet you don't even know what that means." It means a primitive person who lives in caves. I only know because I looked it up after Celia called me one when I tried to eat grapes with my toes.
"So what? I bet you don't know what it means either. I bet you copied it off your mom or your sister."
"I did not. I happen to be gifted. I never copy off of anybody, unlike some troglodytes I know."
Last year I caught Mark copying Jack Connelly's homework on the bus. He pretended like it was no big deal in front of his buddies, but when I threatened to tell his mama, Mrs. Findley, he started boohooing like a little baby. The dumbest part is that Jack Connelly is easily the least smart person in our grade. If Mark's a troglodyte, Jack is king of the troglodytes.
Mark gapes at me and shakes his head disgustedly. "Geez, Annemarie, why'd you have to bring that up? You started it."
"I was just foolin', and if you weren't so dense, you'd know better than to criticize a girl's looks. It's degrading, and it's, well, it's sexist." I raise my eyebrows high and dare him to disagree.
"What a load of crap. You can say whatever you want to me, and I can't say jack to you?" Mark says, shaking his head again. "That's dumb."
"That's the way it goes," I say. "And anyway, you didn't have to rub it in about Celia. I know she's prettier than me."
My sister Celia is the kind of girl whose hair curls just right in a ponytail. She is smaller than me, the kind of small that boys want to scoop up and hold on to real tight. I am too tall for even my daddy to scoop up anymore, much less a sixth grade boy. Boys like Celia; they go crazy for her sneaky smiles and sassy strut. They are always calling the house and making Daddy frown. Mama just smiles and says, "the boys buzz around my Celia because they know she is sweeter than honey." I sure wish boys would buzz around me.
On every Valentine's Day since the fourth grade, Celia has come home with pink carnations and solid milk chocolate hearts and at least one Whitman's Sampler. She always lets me eat the square ones with caramel inside, even though they are her favorite too. The most I ever get on Valentine's Day are the valentines the class got for one another because they had to, the Scooby-Doo or Mickey Mouse kind that come twenty-four to a box at the drugstore.
Mark gives me his "I'm sorry" look -- his half grin-half grimace that's supposed to look like real remorse. He looks like he always does when he has messed up, like a puppy that's peed on himself and is sorry, but will inevitably do it again. Mark Findley has been saying sorry to me his whole life.
"Sorry, Annemarie," he says.
I scowl at him. "Yeah, well, you should be."
He's still giving me The Look, and then he gets on his knees. "Forgive me, Annemarie! Please, please forgive me!" he begs, swaying back and forth with his hands clasped in prayer.
He is so dumb.
The thing I hate worst about Mark is that I can never, ever stay mad at him. I can hold a grudge better than anybody I know, but with Mark it is truly impossible. He always finds a way to make me laugh.
"Oh, get up." Trying to hide my smile, I tear a handful of grass out of the ground and throw it at his head.
He sees the smile that got away and looks satisfied. Then he shakes the grass out of his hair the way my dog Meeks does after a bath. "Where is Celia, anyway?" Mark asks oh-so-casually, falling back onto the ground.
Mark has had a crush on Celia since we were little kids. He's never said so, but he doesn't have to. He knows I know.
"She's at the mall with Margaret Tolliver, and then they're having a sleepover at Margaret's house." Margaret Tolliver is Celia's best friend, and sometimes they let me come along. Today was not one of those times.
"Oh," he says. It hurts to hear so much disappointment in that one little word and I know he still likes her. Celia's sixteen, and we're twelve, so you'd think Mark would know he doesn't have a prayer. And I guess he does know, but he still hopes. Next to the high school guys that like Celia, Mark looks like a little kid. I guess he knows that too. But he still follows Celia around the same way old Meeks does when he's hoping for scraps.
We don't say anything for a minute; we just watch the sun disappear. Then Mark stands up. "I guess I'd better go home," he says. "You wanna come over for dinner? I think Mom's making spaghetti tonight."
Mrs. Findley's spaghetti is the Best Ever, capital B, capital E. She makes the sauce from scratch and everything -- roasted tomatoes, fresh basil from her garden, sweet Italian sausage. Her secret ingredient is honey; it adds a sweetness to the sauce. Mrs. Findley's spaghetti is my favorite. I know this is Mark's way of making it up to me, and I want to say yes, but instead I say, "Nah, Mama's probably already fixed somethin' special for me."
This is a bald-faced lie, and we both know it. Mama hates to cook, and the only time she ever really bothers is when my daddy is at home. Daddy is in Atlanta on business for another week, so the best I can hope for is a peanut butter sandwich. And that's only if Celia bought bread today.
But I sure as heck won't admit any of that to Mark. I'll probably be dining on Extra Crunchy Jif tonight, but at least I won't have shamed my mama. Not that she would even be ashamed, but I know for a fact that she doesn't like the neighborhood knowing our family business. Mama's big on pride. She's always telling me that a woman without pride is no woman at all. I know that I'm not a woman in the places that really count, but I can at least get the pride part right.
Mark shrugs, and says, "Are you gonna go to Sherilyn's pool party next Saturday?"
"Yup." Our friend Sherilyn Tallini has a pool party at the end of every summer, right before school starts. It used to be typical kid stuff -- hot dogs and Sharks and Minnows and neighborhood moms wearing one-pieces with terry cloth cover-ups and matching terry cloth slippers. All except for Sherylin's mom, who only wears string bikinis with maybe a sarong. All the other mothers smile and
pretend to like Mrs. Tallini, but really they think she is "attractive in a used up, tanning bed kind of way." I know because I heard Mairi Stevenson's mom say it at the Fourth of July parade last year.
Mrs. Tallini does have a tanning bed but, as I've heard my daddy say, she is "still one good-lookin' woman." If my mother heard him say this, she would skin him good, but fortunately for us all, Mama does not attend neighborhood functions.
I know what the other mothers think of Mama. They think she is stuck-up and pretentious. They think she thinks she is better than they are. And it's true; she does. My mother, Grace, is very tall and very beautiful in an intimidating sort of way, the kind of way that says she knows it but doesn't give a hoot. Mama's hair is the color of wheat, the kind that gleams red and gold in the sunlight, and her eyes are dark green. My daddy calls her Grace Kelly, which Mama turns her nose up at because according to her, it's far too conventional, but I know she secretly enjoys it. She says that Daddy is no prince, and if she's gonna be compared to anyone, it had better be Lauren Bacall.
Daddy thinks that Mama is everything a woman should be: beautiful, clever, charming. Beauty has a way of making the bad things tolerable. When Mama tilts her green eyes at you, it's hard to remember why you were mad in the first place. That's her special gift.
My mother is unlike every other mother in our neighborhood -- she went to college up North, and she had the nerve to come back "all citified, puttin' on airs like she's Princess Diana." (If you're wondering how I know all this, it's because adults think that kids can't play and listen at the same time.) Mama grew up with a lot of the other mothers in our town, and you can just bet they were smug when she had to come back home.
Mama reads Foucault, not Danielle Steel, and she makes martinis, not green bean casserole. In the kitchen, there are poetry books where the cookbooks should be, and she doesn't have a dish towel with mallard ducks on it or a ceramic magnet that says "Home Sweet Home" on our refrigerator. Mama is always telling Celia and me that we are worth twelve of this town, and that she'll disinherit us if we don't leave as soon as we graduate high school. Mama is halfheartedly invited to neighborhood parties like the Tallini's, but she never fails to graciously decline and the other mothers never fail to be relieved.
Last year was the first year Sherilyn's pool party was different. None of the other mothers were there, and Mrs. Tallini only came outside to serve lunch. I ate two pieces of fried chicken as opposed to my standard four, because none of the other girls were eating anything. We didn't play Sharks and Minnows, and all the other girls wore two-piece bathing suits and lay on deck chairs while the boys tried to splash them. I was the only one who wore the same one-piece bathing suit I had worn the year before. I told the other girls it was because I think bikinis are offensive and degrading to women, so I guess that means I'm stuck wearing my one-piece again this year.
"You wanna walk over to Sherilyn's together?" Mark asks.
"Yeah, okay," I say.
"Okay, then, see you later." He pauses. "And, Annemarie, sorry about what I said before. I didn't mean it."
He meant it. Some girls are pretty, and it's like they were destined for it. They were meant to be pretty, and as for the rest of us, well, we get to exist on the outer edges of life. It's like moths. They're the same as butterflies, aren't they? They're just gray. They can't help being gray, they just are. But butterflies, they're a million different colors, yellow and emerald and cerulean blue. They're pretty. Who'd dare kill a butterfly? I don't know of a single soul who'd lift a finger against a butterfly. But most anybody would swat at a moth like it was nothing, and all because it isn't pretty. Doesn't seem fair, not at all.
Mark heads for home, and I watch him go, feeling the lump in my throat grow. I never knew love felt like cancer of the throat. Before he turns the corner, he waves and I wave back.
It's not like I've never liked a boy before. There was Sherwood Brown, who I met at camp last June. He was staying with his grandma all summer, and we smiled at each other every day at camp. He and his friends would splash me and my friends in the pool, and sometimes he even sat next to me on the bus when we went on day trips. When I told him I liked him, he said he kind of liked me too, but his grandma would whup him good if he ever brought home a white girl. I went home and told Mama, and she laughed until tears ran down her face. She said Sherwood Brown had better learn to stand up to his grandma, or he'd be a little girl his whole life. I decided then and there that I wouldn't be talking to Mama about boys, not ever.
And of course there was Kyle Montgomery, the best-looking boy in our grade. All the girls like Kyle Montgomery. Even the teachers like Kyle. Us girls pretend-swoon when we see him in the hallways. The one time he caught my best friend Elaine Kim and me doing it, he winked at us, and then he turned bright red. We like Kyle because he's out of our league; he's out of everybody's league. Plus he's fun to giggle about. I don't know of any girl who wouldn't die for a chance to walk down the hallway with Kyle Montgomery.
Kyle Montgomery is tall, and he has nice eyes. You know the kind of eyes that always look like they're smiling? Well, Kyle has them, and he really does smile an awful lot. His jeans always fit just right, and he is the best basketball player our school has ever seen. So like I said, everyone likes Kyle, and I did my fair share of liking him too a few years back.
But this is different; this is Mark. This is Mark Findley who knows my favorite ice cream flavor (Rocky Road) and how I like my pizza (extra cheese, pineapple, and mushroom); Mark who pulls splinters out of my feet when I go barefoot in the summer; Mark who helped me bury my gerbil, Benny, when he died. This is Mark who was sitting next to me on the bus that time I threw up in third grade. He didn't even say a word when some splashed on him; he just wiped it off and asked me if I was okay.
One of the things I like best about Mark is his family. The Findleys are the kind of family you only see on black-and-white reruns late at night. At Christmastime, Mrs. Findley makes cinnamon cookies out of piecrust and real whipped cream to put on top, and Mr. Findley used to take Mark and Celia and me sledding at Clementon Park. (This was before Celia decided she was too grown up to have fun.) Mrs. Findley always says that she wishes she had a daughter just like me, and that my mother is the luckiest woman alive for having two lovely daughters. Mrs. Findley thinks I am lovely. When we were little, I secretly wanted the Findleys to adopt me, but now that I'm older, I suppose I would settle for being their cherished daughter-in-law.
Copyright 2006 by Jenny Han
Excerpted from Shug by Jenny Han Copyright © 2006 by Jenny Han. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When I was growing up, I had a best friend. His name was Wesley. When I was reading Shug, by Jenny Han. I realized how much I missed hanging out with Wesley. This book can open you're eyes to a lot of things. Shug will espcially have an impact on you're heart. Even if you don't like to read, I'd recomend this book.
I really do recommend that you buy this for your daughter or yourself. I'm 12 years old, in junior high, and this book is about exactly what I'm going through. Annemarie is so real, and so much like me. I know what its like to feel left out because all of your friends are suddenly into dating, and I know what its like to feel awkward and ugly when your sister and best friend are beautiful and 'in love' with boyfriends. Reading about Annemarie going through these things, and dealing with them helps alot. This is my favorite book and I really think you should buy it, you won't regret it.
This book reminded me of me. Of how I always thought I was ugly and that all my crushes have went down hill. If thats how you are then this is a book you won't want to miss! This book is about a girl who is going to middle school for the first time and everythings chaning. Her freinds aren't hanging out with her, she discovers her crush who has been in front of her since day one, and her parents are fighting, and once she thinks all is lost she discovers that that a guy likes her for who she is. I love the book and how Ms.Hann wrote it. -Thanks:)
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. It's a sweet indulgence that you know you should eat slowly, yet you still find yourself devouring it as if it's your last meal on Earth. SHUG is like that. You'll get caught up in the life of Annemarie and her family, in her friendships and heartbreaks, in her internal struggle to be liked and loved for who she is. At first glance SHUG is a normal coming-of-age story, but once you start reading you'll realize it's anything but normal. Kudos to Jenny Han for this glimpse into Shug's life, and that of her family and friends. It's a story you won't soon forget.
This book was great!! I loved how it showed how people can change for the better and for the worst over time. Shug or Anniemarrie learns this as she starts junior high school. Shug also learns how to move on with life and except change! This book is soooooooo good. Please read it. It is so much better than gossip girls and all those stories about cliques and girls wanting to grow up fast
it is about a girl [nicknamed shug] who's life is changing. you know how when you grow up your best friend starts liking boys. and shug starts liking her old first friend mark. but shug sees everyone she knows becoming couples. at her school dance she finds mark kissing another girl and shug hears him talking about how shug isn't a girl. well shug is kinda tall. you just have to read it. you can totally relate with it. trust me. it talks about friends, families, time to grow up, social status, and love.[ it takels all the things a normal 12 year old needs to know.]
i hope there's a sequel b/c Shug is TOTALLY relatable. every girl can relate to Shug, even someone as old as a 27 year old (writer of this review, me.) while reading it, you'll laugh out loud, smile, maybe even stop and think about your first love, and want to smack both boys (read & you'll see), and maybe even tear up a bit when she talks about her family. SHUG is a fun-read, a MUST-read--you gotta read it, you'll love it,i'm sure.
This book is a MUST HAVE!!!! I love reading books by Jenny Han they open your eyes to something you really havent thought about in a while
i used this book for a report and this was the only book i had found( my teacher picked it ) and i found out that i couldnt put it down! All i sn say is read it now youll LOVE IT
I loved this book!!! It was funny and heart warming at the same time. I definitely reccomend this book!!! :))))
this is the most amazing book i have ever read. i love it. is my favorite book. i hope for jenny han to write another book following it. one that talks about maybe when she is like 15 and jack comes back and other typical teenage drama. :)
This book totally reminded me on how all of my friends zre getting boyfriends...exept me. This whole book i can relate to! You should read i especially if your in middle school!
This is a really good book to to read if you are girl who likes a really cute guy PLEASE read this book!!!!
This may be the best book I've ever read. Before this book I HATED books. This book got me hooked into reading. Life changing! Jenny Han is by far my favorite author.
I loved Shug. Its my new favourite book! I am so hoping this becomes a series and that Jack and annemarie get together!!! Its about Annemarie Wilcox and she doesnt think she is beautiful because she has a flat cheast, is too tall, and has a ton of freckles! Her mom drinks a lot and her dads barely home cuz of work. It tells real life problems like crushes,sibling rivalry,parent problems,and finding out that the someone special is who you least expect and that the saying dont judge a book by its cover is more than true. A great read and great to relate too. My favourite part is the ending. Why? Read it and find out!!! -K
I love this book my favorite
I lovee <3 book!!!! I have read this book sooooo many times and i dont get sick of it!!! I think this a good book!!! It is soo good that you dont want to stop reading!!! HAVE TO READ!!!! :)
I get how Shug is feeling I used to have a friend that came over to my house every day. But he and I got distent then he moved away in fourth grade. Best book ever.
Amaazinnngggggg read now best book ever
What is like moving to a new school? Annemarie or Shug as her family calls her starts to think there is nothing worse than moving to a new school and being twelve. I think that this book is good for girls ages 9-13 and likes girly and cute books. This book is realistic fiction and kept me reading. After Annemarie started at junior high she thought she wasn’t perfect. She was too tall and too freckled. Annemarie Likes this boy names mark and she doesn’t know if he likes her. Does he like her or not?
In this novel, Jenny Han approaches the problem of sudden change we've all experienced from time-to-time. For Annemarie Wilcox, AKA Shug, this is happening exactly at the time of a transition from 6th to 7th grade, which also means a switch from elementary school to secondary school. She encounters the stresses of boys, drama with her "gal-pals," mean teachers, peer pressure, and her grades. On top of all that, not everything is so great at home... This book is excellently written from Shug's point of view, giving you her thoughts and opinions and insight. Although she may only be twelve years old, I find that her problems and experiences are incredibly similar to what one might encounter at any age. Very relate-able and read-ble, "Shug" is an excellent read, and I couldn't find myself able to put it down.
This book shows the struggles and wonders of a girl turning into her adolescent age. Some would say it is cute, but don't forget that it is an on going story of lovely and tragic events in this girl's life. "Shug" gives a side of a story that just must be told, with or without the craziness thrown in. Overall, this book is sweetly crazy with a touch of affection. Basically, it is Shug herself.
This book has inxpered me to be myself and love will find you !! It is a livly book and has descrptive charters that some how I felt like I knew them for my whole life . Its a story about friendship and growing up . I love this book
Jenny Han knows how to write a great book! I loved Shug! I could hardly put the book down. I really enjoyed it!
I LOVED Shug! It's definetly one of my favorite books; the voice is strong, and the characters seem real, so real that they seem to be right there beside you. Shug, also known as Annemarie Wilcox, is dealing with situations such as an alcoholic mother, a father who's never home, an ever-growing distant best friend, and a boy next door who she's suddenly falling for. I recommend this to all ages. It is a very quick as well as an enjoyable read.