Can a true friend help Sugar find her way out of her gingerbread prison?
Mercy Bella Legowski-Gracia, or Sugar, as everyone calls her, deals with stress by eating. And she has a lot of stress in her life—her bedridden mother, her abusive brother, her absent father, the bullies she encounters at school and around town every single day. The huge amount of stress means she eats a lot, and her increasing weight makes her even more depressed and perpetuates the vicious cycle. Until Even comes along. Even has his own share of dysfunctional family interactions, and whatever hurts in him reaches out to everything that hurts in Sugar, making them close friends despite the ever increasing disruptions from the outside world. While it's refreshing to find a narrative from the point of view of an obese teenager who has never known any kind of luck, the book doesn't manage to deliver a distinctive experience. Part of the problem is a predictable plot that's heavy on canned epiphany, as in “Maybe it's like embracing the name Sugar. It's part of who I am, maybe not a proud part, but it's shaped me. Denying it would be denying part of me....” Too much self-help language gets in the way of a realistic experience.
An intriguing effort that doesn't live up to its potential. (Fiction. 14-18)