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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.

276 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 2015

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About the author

Deirdre Riordan Hall

49 books264 followers
Deirdre Riordan Hall is the author of the contemporary young adult bestseller Sugar, Pearl, and several YA fantasy novels. When she's not writing, she's probably surfing or in pursuit of magic. She also has a healthy case of wanderlust, is a major Harry Potter nerd, loves chips and salsa, and dreams about learning no less than three languages.

For more, please visit her blog or twitter

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,088 reviews
June 4, 2015
To tell the truth, I’m not really sure that beauty is beyond skin deep. I have yet to see that theory proven. If there are people that see the beauty within others, they sure as heck don’t live around here.
This was a beautiful, sweet, heartbreaking book. I feel like the blurb is a horrible one, the premise of a fat Puerto-Rican-Polish girl. The description makes the main character feel like a caricature, and this book is much more than that. It's not the type of book I usually favor, but I'm so glad I gave this a shot.

The main character's name is Sugar. She is severely obese. She has been this way her entire life. She is used to constantly being belittled, berated, mocked.

Little girls are not made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Little boys are not made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails. Children can be little assholes when given the opportunity. Children are cruel, their honesty is not always the innocence of youth, but the deliberate intention to hurt. They are like packs of predators. They will zoom in on the weakest for an easy kill, and always, always, for her entire life, Sugar has been the prey among her peers, from early childhood to beyond.
Last year, I took the bus and endured having marshmallows thrown at my head as the kids in the back offered to feed me, shouting, “Come on, Sugar, we know you like sweets” and “Catch one in your mouth,” like I was some kind of sideshow attraction.
Not surprisingly, she has no close friends. The only friendship she has a a highly doubtful, largely one-sided one.
I long for something sweet. Something to help me forget that the pink invitation on the cushion beside me isn’t a genuine request for friendship. To dull the reality that I’m merely collateral in Brittany’s life so she can make use of the texting feature on her phone, and that I’m a big, fat mess with chocolate frosting under my nails and a streak of orange cheese on my shirt.
Sugar's life is anything but sweet. It is truly, truly awful. Her mother is bedridden due to her own obesity, but that doesn't prevent her from physically and mentally abusing her only daughter. Forcing Sugar to eat until Sugar can't even recognize her own hunger signals anymore, then mocking her for being fat, despite her own size.
Dark thoughts crash through my mind. I see Mama, when she was still able to get around, feeding me fried chicken and mashed potatoes topped with half a stick of butter along with gravy and mayo. I downed it with a liter of soda. She insisted I eat, saying, “You’ve got to grow. I don’t want no string bean for a daughter.” Then she let me eat an entire tray of brownies. I ate until I felt like I was going to throw up. All the while, she watched, working through her own plate. I see myself over the years, mindlessly eating, filling my belly until it ached.
Her brother, Skunk, is even worse. His physical abuse of her and her endurance of it was painful to read. He pushes her. Shoves her. Mocks her. He, too, is fat, but kids don't make fun of him because of his size because he is a bully everywhere, at school and at home.
My sausage-filled family history is coupled with sexual innuendos, and they can’t resist teasing me, the fat girl, the granddaughter of the sausage guy. Of course, my brothers don’t do anything about it. Although they’re both big like me, they don’t endure the routine taunts, the shoves, or the humiliation. Half the time, they’re the ones dishing it out.
It's a double standard that is only too painfully obvious to Sugar.

What's the result of all this abuse and stress. Sugar eats away her pain. She eats to forget.
I can’t read the rest unless I press the button on the bottom of my phone. I ignore it, not wanting to talk to anyone at the moment. I frost the cupcakes, taking a few careful, but generous, licks off the knife. My tongue still stings from the burn earlier. My mouth itches from the sweet pudding and frosting.

Guilt creeps in as I survey the kitchen. Empty plastic cups and a cellophane bag with a hand-sized wrinkle from where I clutched it litter the counter. The discarded wrappers and empty cylinder of frosting stand like ruins. Regret submerges me like sludge.

I press my palms to the side of my head, wanting out—out of this body, this town, away, away, away. But there’s no escape.
I think we've all been here. I know I have. A stressful day of work turns into eating an entire tub of cookie dough---and then some. Then the guilt and self-hatred creeps in. Sugar is no different. She hates herself for her weakness, but as any stress-eater will tell you, it's impossible to stop. The eating---it's not the result of hunger at all, but the desire to fill something missing from within.
I wonder if I’m actually hungry now.

I’m not, not really.

The little tower of chocolate cookies begs me to eat it, so that I can feel the soft give in my mouth as I bite down. Then there’s the bittersweet flavor of regret that when I eat them, they’ll be gone, and I’ll still be left wanting more.
Her life is joyless until she meets Ever, who sees her for who she really is, the girl, the spirit that nobody sees, that everyone dismisses based on her appearance. Humans are shallow creatures at heart. No matter how we strive to be fair, most of us DO judge based on appearance. Sugar suffers from this prejudice, and it is Even who first sees what nobody else does.
“I know it must be hard for you, Sugar,” he says softly. “I hear kids talking, but you know what? You’re better than that. You’re—”

That shadow within me that reminds me how worthless I am reckons Even can’t come up with anything nice to say. Then I catch his clear blue eyes and feel his warmth, alive, courageous, so close to me. Real.

“You’re my friend, Sugar. You have the biggest heart and the best laugh. And your smile. It melts me,” he says.
Even (named because his dad couldn't spell) is not without problems of his own. In a way, they're kindred spirits.
“Maybe you can make me something.”

“Like what?” I ask, not sure if he’s just indulging me.

Even stops, scratches his head, and then turns around and says, “An invisibility cloak, to start.”

He and I aren’t that different, appearances aside. We’re both stuck, with nowhere to go and no way to get there.
This is a story about a girl emerging from darkness.

I want to to say "I know how she feels," because at times, I've felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I think at one time or another, I think we all have been displeased with our appearance. A stressful day, and two pints of ice cream later, the self-loathing will start to rear its ugly head as your mind tells you "you're fat, you're disgusting, I can't believe you ate all that." I think it's applicable no matter what weight you are, no matter what size you are, whether you're 50 or 500 pounds.

But the truth is, me saying "I know how she feels," would be condescending, because no, I do not know how she feels. I've never been mocked for my weight. I've never experienced the pain of being judged because of my weight. I've never endured the cruel words, the physical abuse, the bullying, the endless depression and pain of just being that the main character in this book has gone through. But there's the beauty of empathy. A good book makes you feel like "I know what you're going through," regardless of whether or not that experience has been shared. And this is a very, very good book.

If I have any complaints about this book, it would be that the book is, at times, too ideal. The love interest, Even, feels too good to be true. He's too perfect. Too accepting. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that it's unbelievable for Even to love Sugar because she's fat, I'm saying that HIS CHARACTER, the way he acts, what he says, is too ideal to feel entirely realistic.

Although this book seems utterly depressing, it wasn't. Sugar's life is bad, but it never seems like one of those things where the author is wringing pity out of us. This is Sugar's life. She accepts it. She strives on. She never whines, despite how bad things get. This was an uplifting, surprisingly good book.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,990 reviews298k followers
July 22, 2015
"I hear you've been running around with some boy. There ain't no one that likes you, Sugar. You're too ugly, too fat, and too stupid."

Sugar is an extremely emotional and introspective book. The positive reviews guided this contemporary YA novel into my hands and I believed it could very well be a 5-star read for the first 25%. My issue with Sugar is that it's built around a fascinating and heartbreaking issue but doesn't quite deliver a story that continues to engage.

During the first few chapters of this book, I was completely engrossed. Some authors have a gift for dragging you deep inside the mind of another person - a person who is unlike you and unfamiliar in many ways - and making you understand and sympathize with them. Deirdre Riordan Hall is one of those authors.

The book is about Sugar Legowski-Gracia, a girl who is morbidly obese and finds escape from her life by turning to food and eating. She is bullied constantly. By people making piggy noises in the street, laughing at her or ignoring her at school, and even in her own home. Her brother - Skunk - is a violent bully, using his own size to intimidate others. Her mother is also obese, bedridden by her size, and relies on Sugar for food and cigarettes. On the one hand, she encourages Sugar to eat, but then she tells her she is fat and disgusting. Confused and hurting, food becomes her only escape.
I long for something sweet. Something to help me forget that the pink invitation on the cushion beside me isn’t a genuine request for friendship. To dull the reality that I’m merely collateral in Brittany’s life so she can make use of the texting feature on her phone, and that I’m a big, fat mess with chocolate frosting under my nails and a streak of orange cheese on my shirt.

It perhaps doesn't sound very interesting, but Sugar is such a well-crafted character that her story is deeply upsetting. Her relationship with food is told especially well. She knows she shouldn't eat so much, but it's the only thing that calms the turmoil inside her. She binges on snack after snack and then looks at the empty wrappers, ashamed of what she's done. Her self-loathing is palpable and she quickly becomes a character who matters to the reader.

My emotional response to Sugar came fast and strong. I felt sorry for her, I wanted her to learn to love herself, get away from her abusive family, prove the stupid bullies wrong... and this all happened in the space of a few chapters.

After the author sets the scene, painting this awful picture of Sugar's life, though, there's a big chunk of book that I found incredibly slow and boring. I had been introduced to a marvelous character in a horrifying situation and the natural conclusion of a story such as this is for her to build up her self esteem and break free from the vicious cycle of eating and self-hatred. But then there's that bit in between. A lot of which felt like filler.

To make this a novel and not just a short story (and as part of Sugar's journey to realizing her own worth), the author introduces a love interest - Even Anderson. This would have been fine, but Even was, for me, a little too perfect. Good-looking, smart, kind, accepting, somehow able to see what nobody else could, always ready with the perfect thing to say:
“I know it must be hard for you, Sugar,” he says softly. “I hear kids talking, but you know what? You’re better than that. You’re—”

“You’re my friend, Sugar. You have the biggest heart and the best laugh. And your smile. It melts me,” he says.

Unlike Sugar, who feels very real and believable, Even seems too good to be true. An angel who appears to elevate Sugar from the dark depths of her despair. I found his character boring and lacking in complexity, there to serve a purpose to Sugar and nothing else.

I did like this book, particularly the character of Sugar and how far we got pulled inside her mind and eating disorder. It's a book not just about a person's relationship with food, but also about bullying and being unable to escape from yourself. As I said, I thought the middle dragged, but I am glad I read it.

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Profile Image for Shelby *trains flying monkeys*.
1,604 reviews5,987 followers
July 22, 2015
Sugar is an overweight seventeen year old who's life is basically taking care of her morbidly obese mama, cleaning up after her abusive brother Skunk and surviving her days at the local high school.
I lean against the doorframe, heavy with the truth. I am always in the way. I've known this for as long as I can remember. 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.

Kids, this book is frigging dark. I didn't like it when I was about half way through it. I was tired of the fat-shaming, the bullying and the over-all just darkness of it. I kept thinking if I didn't have some depression issues before reading it that this book would sure as hell give me some.

Sugar meets Even. A cute boy. Who looks past her body to see the real her. I'm telling you this girl has no one. Her so called best friend is a bed hopping, shoplifting, meth-head. She has NO ONE. I kept expecting Even to slam this girl, everyone else does. Including herself. The self shame that this book character has is beyond most the I've read and you do feel it for her.
Then she starts growing. Not on the outside.

Sugar starts seeing bits of herself peeking through those dark clouds. Don't get me wrong, it's still a dark frigging world. She still shovels food into herself filling her emptiness.
Then the book took an even darker turn. And this hateful bitch of a reader shed a few tears.

Why weren't books like this around when I was growing up?

She sees right through to my soft, mushy core.
"You'll never be like me."
The words hiss like a fuse.
But I'm the dynamite.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley.
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
849 reviews3,877 followers
February 15, 2021

► This book. This book. Read it.

I'm not gonna lie, but to read this book was depressing at times. Haunting. We can feel Sugar's hopelessness and trust me, it's not always an easy journey to follow. Many passages leave you with an impression of claustrophobia, feeling Sugar's despair in your bones, knocking you down, tearing out. But in the end, what remains is this feeling of hope, and I don't want to let it go.

"I lean against the doorframe, heavy with the truth. I am always in the way. I've known this for as long I can remember."

At first I thought that Sugar wasn't relatable to me at all. I've never been bullied. But I was wrong. Oh boy, I was so wrong. Because this book deals with bullying and acceptation, with the way we constantly value ourselves, especially when we're teenagers - Everybody can relate at a certain degree. Everybody Sees the Ants, remember? Who can say that he has always accepted his body for how it is? I can't. I sure can't, and I'm pretty sure most of us can't as well. However, I never had to deal with families problems like her, I've never been bullied like this, belittled and rejected for how she looks, for who she is - but Deirdre Riordan Hall made me feel it. Her words ring so true that I couldn't help but care, deeply, even though I never suffered through Sugar's torments. Actually I spent my time feeling both horrified and impressed. The way Sugar took care of her (awfully mean) mother and did everything in the house, really, shows a strength in her I never had : she's so courageous and kind, I'm in awe. Food is her escape, a quest to fill the holes in her life, and to see her struggle to take control was heartbreaking and beautiful.

And then Even, Even, Even. Even was so freaking adorable, I could hug him. The friendship they develop seems genuine, beautiful and real. Gradual. Don't worry, you won't find healing kiss (or dick, for that matter), but help : help to see the bigger picture. Talk. Seriously, I can't express how much I'm ecstatic to read about characters who feel better because they talk, they trust, and not because they're making out or something. One might argue that Sugar is starting to change for Even and that it would be better if she decided on her own and blablabla but frankly, don't you think it is realistic? Yes, in a perfect rainbow world the girl (or boy) would realize that she has to stand for herself alone but in my honest opinion things rarely happen like that in real life. YES, the people we meet help us to change and to gain perspective on our lives. I consider myself as an independent woman, yet I'm not ashamed to say that people around me influenced me - I don't carry all the answers, nobody does, and to me the book is NEVER spreading the message that we need to change for a boy, but quite the opposite. Asking for help is okay. Allowing someone to help us is OKAY. We don't need to be alone to be independent. Moreover, Even is perhaps too perfect, it's true. I don't care. Period.

◘ In Sugar, most of the time the adults are either dismissive or plainly mean, and no, I don't think it's unrealistic, sadly. Either they don't acknowledge Sugar's problems or they're acting like jerks about it. Damn, it broke my heart.

✐ As for the pacing, it's not really fast, but then, it suits the story perfectly in my opinion because first life isn't always exciting and secondly I found that it highlighted perfectly the way Sugar often feels - trapped.

Of course I want to yell at these stupid, stupid bullies but the worst is, I can't say that it's not believable. I would love to, but I can't, because it is how life is. The truth is, in my opinion our society raises us in the idea that it's okay to mock people about their weight. Because it's their fault - or so they say. I've never been fat but we don't need to be an investigator to see how everything around us - first of all magazines, television, shows - create a background to justify bullying.

All these magazines covers with LOSE WEIGHT BEFORE SUMMER make me want to rip them out. Like it must be any woman #1 preoccupation. Talk about a double standard - double standard that Sugar painfully experiences with her brother Skunk, fat like her but more a bully than a bullied. To me these magazines help promote the idea that we women must be thin and smart and work achievers and great mums and sexually skilled and - OH COME ON.

They're full of unhealthy bullshit anyway.

We're not born bullies or teasers or specialist of Just kidding! Trust me, my pupils aren't perfect and yet they would never accept this kind of mean comments. It happened. I saw their reaction. I was proud. Why am I telling you this? Because we're all responsible to how people react. People think they are careful around their children but many act like fucking hypocrites. Oh, sure, they're avoiding swearing and F-Bombs in front of them but then here they are, throwing dismissive and belittling comments about people around them - about their weights, their clothes, their jobs, their origin. It makes me sick.

Therefore while we mustn't be blind as well (there ARE medical problems linked to overweight, and our body needs to be cared of, first with what we eat) we can control the model we're showing to the world.

Finally, this book crushed me. I can't talk about it but there's an event in the story with which I. CAN'T. DEAL, because I lived it and I have to say that perhaps I wouldn't have read it if I knew. It would have been a pity, and I don't regret my choice but I can't hide the fact that I stopped reading for a while after it. The truth is, we ask for books to relate to our lives but sometimes it's just too-much to handle - it was the case for me, and the only thing I can say is that everything is handled in a truly REALISTIC way, even though I'm not sure I see the point in it, and that it can be seen as manipulative.

It's a REAL spoiler. Don't read it before finishing the book.

So, I was crushed. I was crushed, and then the most amazing thing happened : Sugar made me smile so big I was cheering like a complete fool.

"In fact, you're my favorite person in the world. You have confidence in there, but sometimes I think you just misplaced it."

► This book. This book. It's not flawless for sure, and yet, the only thing I can say is : Read it.

[Last edited : June 2016]

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Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,051 reviews1,049 followers
November 4, 2015

I thought I’ve already seen the worst kinds of bullying from the many YA contemporaries I have read but reading this book taught me that I have seen nothing yet. This story assailed me with all forms including the worst sorts of bullying villainously combined to form a gigantic, steely, hurtful fist incessantly face punching Mercy aka Sugar , a Puerto Rican-Polish teenage girl who weighs too much, who always hears that she’s always in everybody’s way, whose family members weigh too much, whose mother gives her nothing except the constant “Life is a bitch and then you die” adage (she’ll make an excellent life coach), whose older brother (Skunk) treats her worse than his name smells, and whose entire 17 years of existence can be summarized in one word- pain.

“I’ve always been too much and yet not enough.”

The line above alone already gutted me hard, crushed my heart and it took several minutes for me to stop sniffling.

This is a uniquely and beautifully written bittersweet story about how Sugar wrestles out of a lifelong rejection and bullying, crawls out of her rabbit hole of self-loathing and doubt, and weaves her way out of a town that eats people inside and out because of Even (with an “e”), the only person (in a town where everyone including herself loathes her) who sees her worth.

And you know in this life, it really only takes one person to see you for who you are for you to recover your misplaced self-esteem. That is Even’s role in Sugar’s life. Even who is sweeter than sugar, who is the catalyst to Sugar’s change, who has become her best friend, her anchor back to hope and life, who taught her and showed her everything her mother and those supposed to teach and show her didn’t- to ride a motorbike, to see the ocean, to fight for freedom.

“You are a beautiful person, Shoog. Don’t let anyone, not even the people you think you’re supposed to trust, tell you different.”

Even who is easily the dreamiest guy in school but who doesn’t know it or act like it, who has the biggest heart, who gives Sugar the most wonderful gifts, who has the simplest but most beautiful dream of a road trip...

“After that, I’m going to visit my aunt in Texas. She’s got a sense of humor as big as the whole state.”

(The person that instantly popped in my head at the mention of the aunt: Jilly)

Even! Gah! Oh my heart!

The story, the writing and the messages blew me away. The constant tears (without any hint of imposition) are proof of how magnificently this story has affected me. This is how YA contemporaries should be written. Ms. Hall is an amazing and inspirational writer. I don’t have the words to properly acknowledge that, just please read the book to understand.

"…but if we all looked alike or worse, acted alike, this world would be a boring place. You’ve got curves. But all of you makes you who you are and I like that girl."

This story will make a mess out of your emotions. It will enrage you, hurt you, make you smile, at times make you laugh. It will make you cry a lot and most of all it will inspire you and maybe even change you.

It’s been a couple of days since I finished this but the story managed to shoot an arrow right into my heart and took permanent residence there. (Finally able to use that cheesy phrase! Bahaha! See? I’m an emotional mess.)

Until now, I can still clearly remember the last line of the book and I’m having a feeling I’ll remember it for a very, very long time.

“Then I get the green light and I go.”
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,534 reviews9,937 followers
January 20, 2016
MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List




This book has just broken my heart! Just torn it apart and put it back together :(


Sugar's name is Mercy, but her mom named her Sugar when she was little because she found her in a room as a baby with a spoon eating out of the sugar bag. She thought it was funny. Sugar's mom is a b*tch!

Sugar has an older brother named Fat Henry and he moved out long ago. She has another older brother that lives with her and her mom and he is called Skunk from an unfortunate accident when he was a child. Skunk is a demon to Sugar, God I hate him! He beats her up, calls her names, he's just evil. Sugar's mom also calls her a fat slob, lazy.. blah blah.. yet this woman took to her bed years ago and has Sugar wait on her hand and foot because she's too fat to get off the bed.

This woman/thing would feed Sugar and the other kids all kinds of food growing up, but Sugar got the brunt of it. She would say eat more Sugar, you need to grow. Filling her full of carbs and sugar like I have never seen in my life! Now, poor Sugar is almost eighteen and she's obese and loves to eat. They all still eat crap food constantly. I was sickened reading what all they were eating, the amounts of it all.

Sugar has been bullied at school all of her life for being overweight. I mean these kids are so damn cruel. Then she meets Even, yes that's how it's spelled, you can read it in the blurb. He is a new kid and he is so nice to her. He doesn't care that she is overweight and he even actually gets her to lose weight by going on walks together and just talking.


He stands by her through everything. No one can believe the hot guy wants to hang out with her.. but guess what.. he does, he's nice so they can all suck it!

He has problems at home with his dad being a drunk. His mom died in childbirth. He's building a Harley so he can travel the places his mom wanted to go that he read in her journal and he wants to spread her ashes at the sea.

Even teaches Sugar how to ride his Harley once he gets it ready and she gets her license when she turns eighteen. They have so many wonderful adventures together. I can't give out all of the spoilers.

Sugar can open up to him. She tells him of how when her grandmother Boo was still alive, she teaches her how to sew and she makes a lot of clothes. You know, things like that. Sugar is a good person as I have said before. She goes to church on Sunday's and prays for her family. She just wants to have a normal family but that doesn't really happen. She gets bullied at home and school!

At one point, something really bad happens.. I had to put the book down for a little bit because of the crying.

After a tragedy, Sugar gets into counseling and makes some strides in understanding her life. I forgot to mention her father left when she was young, but there is a whole other story to that... it's not what it seems or what she was told actually.

One day Sugar was leaving school and as she goes to get into her car to leave, she sees it's covered in donuts. Those jerks were still bullying her after the tragedy. They suck so bad. But by learning from Even and her therapist, this is what she had to say to them.


“I feel sorry for all of you if your idea of humor is insulting the way someone looks. Yeah, I may be different, but in addition to my pity, you also deserve my gratitude. Going on four years, you have all done a solid job of teaching me who I am, but it’s not who you think. I’m a good person, and I am going to do great things.” I pause, but decide to leave it at that.
“So, see ya around and—“ I smile my beautiful smile and lift my arms in victory. Staring into the crowd I loudly say, “Fuck you!”




After all of this Sugar doesn't go back to school, she goes and stays with her brother Henry and his fiance who are great people. Well Henry's finance turned his life around so he's good people. They get it to where Sugar can do her studies at home so she can graduate. Stacy, the fiance, teaches her how to make some healthy meals, they find some closure with family matters, and Sugar eventually sets out on a Harley to fulfill a dream and a promise.


The Damn End! Read The Book! I Wish I Had A Friend Like Sugar!

Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,478 reviews7,775 followers
June 19, 2015
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

“I’ve always been too much, and yet not enough.”

Houston commercial photography

The next stop on the Kelly and Mitchell downward spiral of the most depressing reads ever is Sugar. ALL ABOARD!

If having a morbidly obese teenage MC didn’t already clue you in to the fact that this book probably wasn’t going to be all sunshine and daisies – add in a bedridden (but still abusive) mother, a lazy asshole of a brother, a father who went MIA umpteen some years ago, a house close to falling down around her, and a compulsive eating addiction so intense I wanted to stage an intervention for a fictional character . . .

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Poor Sugar. Man was she dealt a shitty hand in life. At 17-years old she sees her future in the shape of her mother – a woman who has become so enormous she can’t get out of bed. Never in my life have I wished for a moment like this . . .

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But sadly, Sugar’s story was not a happy one so I knew that probably wasn’t going to happen. In fact, Sugar’s only reprieve from her miserable existence is via needle and thread – sewing beautiful creations that she only dreams of wearing. When Even (yep, Even – don’t even [see what I did there?] get me started on YA names) moves to town, he offers Sugar something she’s never had before. Friendship . . . .

Houston commercial photography

Sugar is one of those books that makes me glad I have never thrown in the towel on Young Adult novels. This is realistic YA. There is no instalove. There is no dystopia or fight to the finish type of battle. There’s just some amazing writing . . .

“Birds call craw, craw, urging me to go in deeper, to shut out the noise in my head, the whisper telling me that I’m hungry, starving, that I need to be full.”

and a heartbreaking life story . . .

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ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
Profile Image for Whitney Atkinson.
940 reviews13.9k followers
April 29, 2015
Sugar was such a powerful book that surprised me. I was immediately interested in it because I'm highly anticipating the release of Dumplin by Julie Murphy, a book with an overweight main character. Sugar, the main character of this novel, is also overweight and the book is centered around her weight problems, along with bullying from family and friends. The main thing I love about this book is how much I understand Sugar. I completely can relate to her mindset of feeling stuck in her body and feeling worthless, so the entire book I was on Sugar's side. Although I felt like sometimes the bullying was unrealistic to the point where I was questioning myself the actual likelihood of those events happening in real life, the drama made it so that I couldn't put it down. For a book centered around a fat character, I wish this book could have had a bit more body positivity in it. Obviously, toward the end we begin to see a shift in Sugar's mindset about her curves, but sometimes I found myself struggling to read this book which the majority of, she's being called crude names during because of her size. Perhaps it hurt because I saw myself in her shoes, but even when Sugar goes on to meet her boy friend Even (pronounced Evan. See the synopsis for an explanation lol), I really wish we could have seen him being supportive of her and calling her beautiful, but for a lot of the book he quite literally just ignored her size and pretended not to notice instead of addressing that she was beautiful and worthy despite it.
But once again, this is a book that really struck home and I think the writing and development of Sugar's story is beautiful. It left me feeling a little bit more inspired to exercise, which is certainly a feeling I love!
I highly recommend you check this out when it comes out in June!
Profile Image for Lindsey Rey.
286 reviews2,709 followers
September 9, 2016
I loved this. I hated this. I loved this. I almost threw the book across the room. I loved this. My heart feels all the feels. I love Sugar. I love Evan. I love Henry. That is all.
Profile Image for Sarah Elizabeth.
4,738 reviews1,306 followers
June 27, 2015
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Amazon Children's Publishing and NetGalley.)

“I march into the kitchen and pop a couple of the double-chocolate cupcakes into my mouth. I snap off a pudding cup from the pack in the fridge. I peel away the top. After three spoonfuls, I scrape the bottom of the plastic cup. I go for another and another. Before I realise it, I’ve eaten the entire six-pack.”

This was quite a shocking story about an overweight girl and her life.

“You’re one little piggy. Inhaling your food again?”

I felt really sorry for Sugar in this story, she was bullied relentlessly, and not just by kids at school, but by her own mother and brother! Both of them behaved absolutely disgustingly, and her brother ‘Skunk’ deserved to go to jail for the things he did in this book.

“Look what you did fatty.”

The storyline in this was about Sugar’s life, and the bullying she went through, and her thougts and feelings towards food. I have to say that not only was the bullying shocking, but so were Sugar’s eating habits, partly because they really reminded me of my own eating habits. So not good!

“I plow through my Twinkie stash and, before I know it, I hardly remember what they tasted like.”

We did get a bit of romance, and I thought Sugar and Even were pretty sweet together.

“You’re a beautiful person, Shoog. Don’t let anyone, not even the people you think you’re supposed to trust, tell you different.”

There was a very sad twist in this story that was quite upsetting, it totally changed the direction the story was heading in, as well as poor Sugar’s life.

7 out of 10

And how wrong is it that this book made me really want to make some chocolate cupcakes?
Profile Image for Kathe L.
181 reviews95 followers
August 19, 2015
“I’ve always been too much and yet not enough.”

When I had the go-go that I could read again, I decided to finish this book because it killed me to let it intact when I left it. If I only knew what was to come.

This book is a hard book. Like, you want to drop it at times. Especially because I am the opposite of Sugar. We meet this overweight girl that is like this because whenever her life gets difficult, she goes to food. When I am going through a hard time, I stop eating. Eating brings me joy, so whenever I'm angry, sad, etc I just can't eat. And Sugar is just the opposite. She has an emotionally abusive mother and an awful brother that only make it harder. Plus, kids at school are terrible. That quote, the first line of the review? It killed me to see someone thinking this way.

I thought I would relate to Sugar, but it always surprises me how mean 'kids' can be. I was overweight myself, my friends were, my dad still is. And my dad never suffered socially because of this, and me too. People never disliked my personality on sight because of what I looked like, or insulted me like that. I lost weight, but because my doctor told me to. Sugar's situation made me choke, ache and hurt. She deserved the world and people wouldn't really look at her. When I was overweight, I would put this brave face like 'I don't care that I am not skinny' but whenever we would play games, I would never pick anyone because people were thinner than me, and so, I couldn't run very fast. And I would also get thoughts like 'I hate myself', but people were nice to me. And that makes much difference.

Sugar meets Even, though. And he is special. He was a bit too perfect for me, but he has a role here, and he helps Sugar to see herself outside the hate-bubble she lives in. They were very cute! And after all Sugar goes through, having a friend by her side helped her a lot. She started to see herself with new eyes. This book isn't packed with action and things going on very fast. It is emotional, thought-provoking, full of things that make you think on how mean people can be and how mean we can be with ourselves.


All in all, I could relate so much. Sugar reached the point where she's at because she has a terrible family. Therefore, she hates herself because nobody took the chance to know the amazing person that she was, and that we get to see as the book goes on. Until Even. It made me think on how much meeting incredible people can change us, you know? Myself, living proof when I was overweight and too thin, one after the other. This book is wonderful because it talks about a real problem and in a very realistic way, too. Everyone should take the chance to read it, especially if it is close to one's personal life. A very touching story and the best way for me to get on track with my books again.
Profile Image for Aditi.
920 reviews1,345 followers
June 12, 2015
"People are starting to go on about my weight, but I'm not going to change my size because they don't like the way I look."


Deirdre Riordan Hall, an American writer, pens her new Young Adult contemporary fiction, Sugar which is about a fat teenage girl, a victim of constant bullying both at home and high school, who falls in love with a senior from her school and learns to find the light amidst so much darkness around her.

P.S: I encourage or rather say, plead every fat chick or non-pretty girl or anything that makes anyone a subject of constant bullying among their peers, to read this inspiring book which might not help you the way you want that help, but I'm very sure that it will give you hope and a new perspective as well as a direction to look at yourself lovingly and to find that respect for one-self. Go ahead, grab a copy of this book now and if midway through the book, you feel like you can't be able to take it anymore, then let me remind you, there's a light at the end of every dark tunnel and so for this young teenage girl, Sugar, give her a chance to find that light, and I believe along with her, you too will be able to find that shining new horizon.


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.

Sugar is an over-sized teenager and because of her size, she is a subject of constant bullying among her peers at her high school and also at her home. Now at her home, the condition is bit different, her mama is diabetic and she couldn't get out of the bed anymore because of her weight and her constant gorging on unhealthy fried food makes it even more difficult for her to do her normal personal daily routine like cleaning, showering etc, on the other hand, her elder brother, Skunk, is a mean over-weight guy who doesn't give a shit about his family or anything except food. This makes Sugar hide behind all the sweet, chocolatey, honey and caramel flavors of the world, well she is just hiding her pain behind sweet sugary food, which takes away her pain within a small bite. Then comes, Even, who changes her life like he isn't supposed to do that, who accepts her like she wasn't supposed to be and who shows her the better version of her which she never knew existed among layers of fat and skin. But it is not easy for Sugar to accept the goodness in her life all of a sudden, especially to say no to the sugary frosty taste of a chocolate cupcake.

This is an enlightening as well as a heart-breaking story which made me cry for most parts of the story. The writing is very simple, articulate and easy to comprehend with. Although I believe this story might not appeal to those perfect-looking-size-two-girls, but every human being has some flaw within them which when becomes loud, it makes you a subject of joke and this where this book comes through, to let you believe in yourself and gives you the power to take control over your life.

Hats Off to the author for concocting such a imperfect story into a perfect one, especially, for keeping it this real. The eloquent prose and the free-flowing and realistic narrative style makes the book yet more alluring to read. The author have addressed such a sensitive theme among young lives with lots of compassion and love thus making us feel the deep, raw emotions. The story is very real, and the author have captured the real world quite strikingly.

The characters are undoubtedly the most strongest and well-developed ones, who are sure to leave a mark upon our minds after reading this book. Not only the protagonist, the supporting cast too have drawn with enough realism. The main character, Sugar, is a sad, non-confident, weak yet big-hearted teenager who has no friends to confide her own feelings or who has no idea or experience what it feels like when a guy appreciates your beauty, but then Even, a nice handsome and kind teenager who sees past through the flab and fats of Sugar and gives her chance to be herself around him. Then there is her elder brother, Henry, who too plays a pivotal role in Sugar's dark days and stands and supports her like a pillar.

There is a lot of character-development for Sugar, the author have taken her main protagonist on a self-discovery journey where without any one's presence, Sugar learns to love herself and save herself from the pity. By the end, of the book, instead,of feeling sorry for Sugar, I was cheering for her. There is a lot of sweet, innocent chemistry between Even and Sugar although the author kept the relationship between Sugar and Even as only friends and their bond of friendship is very beautiful and powerful, nothing sexual or lusty.

Overall, I can say the from the very first page, with Sugar's teenagish narration, I got hooked on to the very core of the story and couldn't even pull myself out of the charm at the end of the book.

Verdict: This is a must read book for all those who feel they are uncool or anything less than their peers, be it a teenager or an adult!

Courtesy: Many, many thanks to the author, Deirdre Riordan Hall, for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book.
Profile Image for Rachel Maniacup.
153 reviews79 followers
September 24, 2015
Having read this book recommended to me by my dear friend ADITI, wrapped me in different emotions.Not only because this novel is a heart-breaking story,but is uplifting as well.

This is a story of a fat-17 year old girl who was constantly being bullied by almost everyone she knew,and yet her life at home is much worse. It is at home why she was named as Sugar,not as an endearment but as a torment name or a kind of harassment.

One day in school,MERCY(Sugar's real name)met a sweet young man,EVEN who bumped into her, whom she didn't expect would befriend her,would actually be her school buddy.

I think,it is swoon-worthy that Even liked the way Sugar smile and how he loved to always see it on her,because deep inside,Even knew that Sugar is a beautiful girl inside and out.But he also knew that Sugar isn't happy with her life and that is why he wanted her to come out of her shell.

But while Sugar has to bear and suffer her own mother's abuse and endure his brother's viciousness, Even also has to deal with the misfortune of having an alcoholic and miserable father.

This novel was beautifully written,but there's a part in the story that I didn't expect would happen.And it made me real sad that I cried so much because it felt like,my hopes for the main character had been deceived.I'm sure you understand what I mean(to those who have read this).

But over all,the ending is still wonderful because it brought a good measure of change,forgiveness,acceptance and inspiration.

Thank you so much ADITI,for recommending this excellent book,that I also highly recommend to everyone who's looking for a self-esteem,morale boosting read.^^
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,212 followers
May 4, 2015
Another entry into the "doing bad things for fat characters" collection in YA.

In short: she hates herself, she's fat and miserable, but when she meets a boy who takes some interest in her, she suddenly wants to lose weight and feel better about herself.

But it's littered with hateful, painful-to-read messages that are lazy, hurtful writing.

Pass on it. I quit half-way through because there wasn't going back after "This extra layer of flesh hides the real me, even from myself."
Profile Image for Acordul Fin.
486 reviews181 followers
June 16, 2019
A shell like this one, beautiful to begin with, can get cracked and slivered, and then time, the tides, maybe even the wind, tumble and toss it, and it becomes something new, a perfect version of itself.
I'm very torn about this book. I do appreciate the author's decision to tackle this very sensitive topic and also some of the messages from the final chapters, but I don't agree with her overall approach. From the moment Even stepped into the picture I knew Sugar would try to lose weight for him. She had so many reasons to try to do it before, yet she never did. And what's even worse to me is that she started standing up to her family's abuse only as a consequence of her relationship with Even It's great when our lives are influenced positively by our friendships, but liking someone shouldn't be the sole catalyst for change, it needs to come from within too, and she didn't question anything before he came into her life, she just went along with all that abuse and I don't know if I can accept that.

Perhaps there are a lot of people out there with this extreme level of helplessness and they are like that probably due to the abuse they've endured, but still, it feels reading this book would just enable them. I don't agree with this indirect message that you need to wait for this perfect person to come along (slender, attractive, smart, good-mannered) and love you unconditionally and therefore teach you to start loving yourself. I mean, what are the odds of this happening? How many overweight, with low-income, emotionally and physically abused women have had a prince charming rescue them from their horrible lives? I reckon there aren't too many cases.
Profile Image for Taylor.
767 reviews422 followers
March 2, 2016
I'm not sure what I expected with this book but I do feel kind of disappointed.
I liked the concept of this book but I felt like a lot of it was repetitive. I felt bad for Sugar and how she was always been bullied and verbally abused at home. I really cared about her. But I felt like the book kind of dragged on because a lot of the book was the same thing. I felt like this book was about a girl that was overweight and that was the only focus. I wanted it to be about Sugar, not her weight.
I felt like some of the bullying was kind of unbelievable. Maybe it's just because I've never been bullied because of my weight so I don't have that experience but I just couldn't see some those things actually happening in real life.
Even though I liked Sugar well enough, I couldn't relate to her at all. I've never experienced any of her troubles and because I've that I had a hard time understanding some things. I just couldn't understand why Sugar would keep eating junk food when her mother was bedridden in the next room because of her diabetes. A lot of my family has diabetes and I know how serious it is. I found it really frustrating that Sugar knew what could happen to her if she kept eating so much junk food and yet she wouldn't stop.
Overall, I liked this book but I don't it was right for me. I wish there was more of a story outside of Sugar's weight but I think the biggest problem with this book wasn't even a problem. It was me because I couldn't relate to Sugar at all. I don't think this book is for everyone but I do think it's a good book for the right reader.
Profile Image for Laurence R..
617 reviews87 followers
March 10, 2016

I LOVED this book. I expected to read this in a couple of days, but once I started, I simply couldn't stop myself.

This book made me so, so , so sad. I hated how Sugar's family treats her, except for Fat Henry. They don't even give her time to breathe, they just shoot her without interruption. I was so angry that I wanted to cry and I had to stop reading for a couple of seconds once in a while to digest all of this. The worst part is probably the fact that Skunk and Sugar's mother don't even seem to realize how badly they treat a family member and they're completely guiltless. I would've punched them repeatedly. Also, the way Sugar sees herself made me really sad. I'm no stranger to confidence issues, even though I might not be considered as fat or ugly, but her thoughts made me ache for her. The way her family members treat her doesn't help, which is another reason why I was so angry while reading this book.

All the anger and sadness I experienced made Even perfect to me when he arrived. I loved how he treated Sugar and how much better he made her feel. I was really happy when he realized how bad Sugar's life was and tried to make her realize it, too. He made a great difference in her life and I'm really thankful for him. He acted so sweet towards her that he made my heart melt and I would've cried at things he said or did sometimes. He's a great character and I loved how he and Sugar bonded.

I think this book is good at dealing with eating disorders because Sugar tried to change the way she eats, looks and lives for herself. She realized that always being breathless wasn't good for her and that there are other ways for her to feel better than to eat. I'm glad she didn't do it to please someone, because it would've been such a fragile change in her life.

I wish Sugar had realized that she isn't the only one with confidence issues. She always talks about people who aren't fat as confident and fat people as insecure, but weight isn't the only problem. It bugged me a little, because it's as if she's judging, too. I understood her point of view, though, I just wish she had realized people around her have insecurities, no matter how beautiful or confident they can seem.

There's an event that surprised me and that I wish didn't happen, especially since it seemed an odd moment for it to happen. However, things got better after and I liked how the story ended, so it wasn't too bad.

I highly recommend this book. It made me feel so much more emotions than any other book I read recently and I'm convinced I'm not the only one who experienced that.

(Thank you NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.)

(You can find this review on my review blog: http://lauromantique.blogspot.ca/2015... )
Profile Image for Sophia Sardothien.
155 reviews519 followers
June 7, 2015
Thank you netgalley for providing me this e-arc

I love the message the author is trying to say, instead of writing about a typical teenager with a bad family background falling in love with a guy. The book deals with an oversized girl Sugar, whom has to face problems both in school and at home. Though I could not 100% relate to Sugar but I really admire how strong she is. As for her love interest Even. Such a swoon worthy guy, what makes him so decent is that he's undeniably sweet! The ending was alright! Overall a nice read.
Profile Image for Shannon A.
674 reviews531 followers
May 14, 2015
This book is important. It tackles tough subject matter such as abuse, bullying, self-confidence and eating disorders. It's hard to read at times and yet, it is so important to read. I was moved by Sugars story and the journey we watch her go on. The book wasn't perfect, I had some issues with story development and believability at points, but it is overall solid and well written. The most important thing is the book is honest and doesn't hold back. By doing so, the author honors our main character and her story and the stories of many teens in similar situations. My overall feeling after finishing the story is one of hope. I definitely recommend!!
Profile Image for Katie.
21 reviews3 followers
February 1, 2016
Books that hurt the most are those that hit too close to home. Sugar represents so many young girls out there-girls both fat and thin, girls who lack what it takes to be confident and to be who they really are. This novel encourages each and every girl to be who they are and not who people say the are.
Profile Image for ❤Marie Gentilcore.
878 reviews38 followers
August 19, 2017
I really, really enjoyed this book. It is about Sugar, an overweight teen girl who is taking care of her morbidly obese mother and her rotten brother. Sugar’s actual name is Mercy Bella but her mom nicknamed her Sugar when she was 3 years old and she found her eating a bag of sugar. Sugar’s mom is ornery and abusive and probably has some kind of mental illness. This has led to Sugar having a very low self-esteem. Sugar is also bullied at school and at home by her mother and brother. One day she meets Even, a boy who has just moved to town, and he changes her life. He sees through her outward appearance and becomes her friend. I really liked Sugar and it was uplifting to see her character’s growth. This book hit all the emotional notes for me. I’m so glad I read it. I may even read it again with my daughter.
Profile Image for Sarah.
657 reviews3 followers
May 31, 2015
I feel mean posting a negative review and rating for an author on Goodreads who can see it but hey, it's my opinion, even if it does seem to be going against the gushing from the rest of the reviews. This was my free Prime read from this month. The only interest I had when reading this story was to analyse world view-point of where it was coming from: it ticks all the issues boxes
Profile Image for Bèbè ✦ RANT  ✦.
405 reviews134 followers
May 26, 2015
Sugar was a very emotional read for me. Filled with the reality of bullying, negligence, and abuse, this is the book that opens people's eyes of what being unhealthy might be like to children that do not have a stable foundation to get healthy and care for their life.

Sugar Legowski-Gracia was an incredibly lovable character, she is a sweetheart and the way she cared for her mother and even put up with her brother Skunk was sad and I cannot believe people exists like that. It really made me think of my personal body image issues that I have had in the past and how important it is to have the right mindset about your life as well as people that can support everything that you do.

Sugar meeting Even was very genuine, he really made her feel like she was a person and not some image that was laughed at on daily basis. The realization of her problem was very touching and I felt like the author really did a good job of making me feel like I was a part of her story, going through everything with her.

I cannot believe what happened in the end. I still cannot accept it. But it is the reality of some people, although Sugar definitely was the one who would have deserved a better situation. Overall, I am in awe of the writing and the story that it told, incredibly eye-opening!
Profile Image for Carolyn (on vacation).
2,245 reviews641 followers
June 9, 2015

Sugar Legowski-Gracia is a very obese, unhappy teenager. Her whole family is obese and dysfunctional, her mother so large that she can no longer get out of bed and spends her time screaming abuse at Sugar while expecting her to run the household and attend to her every whim. Sugar's father left when she was young and the only member of her family who is kind to her, older brother Fat Henry has escaped to live with his girlfriend. Her remaining younger brother, Skunk, is vile and abusive and encourages his friends to laugh and poke fun at her. School is no escape from her nasty family as she is ridiculed by the other students. Sugar's only escape, to fill the unfillable gaping hole in her life, is to stuff herself with sweet and fatty comfort food.

This is the touching story of a beautiful, neglected girl crying out for sometime to notice her with a little kindness. Sugar's salvation appears in the form of Even, a quiet sweet boy who understands family abuse and sees the beauty within Sugar. Their story is sweet and heart-breaking and ultimately uplifting.
Profile Image for ily .
455 reviews632 followers
July 15, 2015
DNF at 30%

Chica odia su apariencia.
Chica conoce a chico lindo y popular.
Chica cambia de opinión sobre sí misma.

Profile Image for Drew.
450 reviews500 followers
August 29, 2016
3 1/2 stars

My, what a wonderful thing Ms. Hall has done. She took the stereotypical "fat girl" and turned her into a complicated, flesh-and-blood human being.

You know what I'm talking about. In movies and books the "fat girl" is usually a background character whose sole purpose is for comic relief. She's not taken seriously or even treated like a real person. Why is it that something as trivial as size should define a person or make them worth less than anybody else?

This book humanized the main character, Sugar. Sugar is undeniably overweight, but there's so much more to her than meets the eye. We are able to see her struggles, fears, and insecurities that fuel her constant need to eat firsthand through her complex mind.

And what a complicated character she is. Sugar worries about her morbidly obese mother who can't even get out of bed. She has a crush on a boy who she thinks could never possibly like her back. She's also lonely and depressed.

Ever since she was a young girl, Sugar has been bullied. Kids insult and laugh at her daily. She no longer takes the bus to school because she got pelted by marshmallows whenever she took a seat. But the worst part is that her own family puts her down, too.

At first when Even was introduced I loved him. He was the first person who was genuinely kind to Sugar. Even was just the person Sugar needed to build her self-esteem. When Sugar hesitantly began liking her smile or hair after Even complimented her I was mentally cheering her on.

But after a while, I began to notice that Even wasn't showing any insecurities. He didn't have any flaws, never messed up, and always said just the right thing to Sugar. He acted too much like the perfect gentleman.

This bothered me more and more as the story went on. Even felt more like a caricature than a real person. I liked that he didn't judge Sugar for her size and helped build her confidence, but I wish he'd had more depth.

Even's flat character kind of surprised me, too, because Sugar herself was so complex. Her intricate thoughts were what made her such an interesting character. Her story may have been simple, but it was totally compelling when led by such a fascinating and multi-layered protagonist.
Profile Image for Carmel.
997 reviews15 followers
May 12, 2015
I understand that this is YA fiction, but I was very disappointed in this novel. The terms "show, don't tell" from my creative writing classes came to mind. There was so much here that was laid out so simply that it was almost painful to read.
There was also too much in here reminiscent of "Push" the novel by Sapphire. Borderline infringement?
The redeeming feature is the main character. Although playing to stereotypes, I enjoyed following her coming-of-age.
I won't be recommending this book to anyone.
Profile Image for Katherine.
777 reviews355 followers
December 5, 2019
”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 yet not enough.”

This book was almost close to perfect, but it utilizes one of my most hated tropes ever.

Size has defined Mercy “Sugar” Legowski-Garcia’s life for as long as she can remember. Always the “fat girl” in her class, the relentless teasing and bullying she takes from her classmates has all become part of the norm.
”’There ain’t no one that likes you, Sugar. You’re too ugly, too fat, and too stupid.”
An extreme emotional eater, her habits aren’t exactly discouraged by her fractured family, with her mother so big she’s bedridden and Skunk, her brother, matching his meanness to his enormous size. Sugar comes to feel like she’ll be stick in her backwards, hick town for good, forever being the targets of taunts and teasing from her town. That is, until a boy named Even arrives at her school. Even (who’s name was misspelled on his birth certificate by his illiterate and drunken father) becomes something of a kindred spirit to Sugar, helping her find the confidence and hope she needs to not only better herself physically, but emotionally as well.

The author does an absolutely amazing job at describing the emotional aspects and feelings a person with obesity and weight issues goes through when eating for comfort, as Sugar does. The high they feel thinking about the food, when they’re in the midst of their feelings of hurt and sorrow, anger, or whatever negative feeling takes over their state of being.
”A chocolate craving pulls at odd parts of my body- the slight web of skin between my fingers, the spot under my tongue, the place above my knees but below my thighs- tugging me toward the kitchen. It distracts me from the laundry and everything else I should be doing.”
She takes through the fleeting comfort that food gives them, where nothing and no one exists and everything is better.
”I chew the soft cake and the sweet center lights up my tongue. It carries me away to a place where size doesn’t matter, boys don’t taunt me, and Twinkies are healthy, plentiful- they grow like lettuce- and everyone loves them and me.”
And she leads us into the aftermath, when the euphoria that food gives them goes away in under a minute, leaving the gnawing pain of regret and guilt for having overstepped the forbidden boundary.
”The chocolate is smooth and creamy on my tongue. As it melts in my mouth, it relieves the chatter in my mind. Instead, milky-cocoa sweetness splashes through my veins like a dam saturating parched land. I feel adored and caressed by the confection. But as quick as a snap, I’m shunted back to the present. The wrapper, crumpled in my sweaty fingers, reminds me that no one and nothing wants me here.”
It’s absolutely harrowing, and I’m sure people can relate no matter if they are struggling with their weight or not. Lord knows that sometimes when I’m down I find myself craving the comfort of a chocolate bar, only to beat myself up afterwards for eating the whole thing in my emotional state.

I think that what people fail to realize, and the author does a good job at describing, is that obesity and overeating are eating disorders and addictions. Addictions can come in many forms. Just as an alcoholic can become addicted to booze, a gambler becomes addicted to gambling, and hoarders become addicted to keeping literally everything, emotional eaters become addicted to food.It’s literally a compulsion, those little voices that speak inside their head to go ahead and eat another cookie, because what’s the harm.
”As the wafer melts on my tongue, I suddenly crave bread. A long aisle of imagined white, potato and cinnamon-raisin sliced bread stretches in front of me. Then, thinking about the cake on the television the day before makes my mouth water. A waterfall of cascades through my mind in a smooth wave ending in frothy bubbles.”
Food consumes their every waking thought, and any negative feeling they might be experiencing can easily be comforted with food. It’s their version of getting a high, so to speak.
”I tuck myself into a corner of a vacant bench and take a handful of M&M’s from my bag. They crunch sweetly between my teeth. The sugar saturates that part of me that screams ugly... fat...useless.
And yet most people fail to realize that. We’ve been trained to think that when a person’s fat, they fall off the bandwagon and it’s their own fault. It’s so simple, why don’t they just stop with the eating the foods that are bad for them?

It’s not that simple.

Emotional eaters aren’t formed overnight; it happens over time. A traumatic event, a crappy home life, and even genetics can contribute to food addictions. In the case of Sugar, it’s her mother’s emotionally abusive behavior in making Sugar eat literally everything that sits in front of her, no matter the cost.
”Dark thoughts crash through my mind. I see Mama, when she was still able to get around, feeding me fried chicken and mashed potatoes topped with half a sick of butter along with gravy and mayo. I downed it with a liter of soda. She insisted I eat, saying, “You’ve got to grow. I don’t want no string bean for a daughter.’ Then she let me eat an entire tray of brownies. I ate until I felt like I was going to throw up. All the while, she watched, working through her own plate. I see myself over the years, mindlessly eating, filling my belly until it ached.”
And I think the author did such a good job at handling that factor of the novel, which also happens to be the main part. I would’ve given it five stars for that alone.

I also liked Sugar as a character, even though her home life is horrifically bleak and at the beginning of the novel she’s such a sorry, sad person to read about that you want to take her by the shoulders and give her the biggest hug imaginable; make all of her problems go away with a flick of an imaginary magic wand. All she wants is to be accepted but most importantly, loved, which to her seems an impossible feat.
”Those words cut right through the fascia that holds together my battered self-confidence to the little girl who has yearned for someone to show an interest in her. She is the same girl who wanted her mama to hang her paintings on the fridge, no matter that they were scribbles. And the girl who wanted a daddy to dust off her knees when she fell down, and then help her back up. She’s the same girl who, because of the absence of care, concern, and kindness, put on a shield made of donuts, cookies, and cakes to hide from the pain of dismissal, of being told that she is less than valuable and that she’s utterly unlovable.”
The scenes where she has to take care of her mother and deal with the physical and emotional abuse of her brother Skunk were hard to stomach, let alone read about. You want to reach in and punch Sugar’s bullies for her. It’s truly heartbreaking to read about, as I’m sure we’ve known a few Sugar’s in our life, and maybe throughout our schooling.

And yet despite my heartbreak for Sugar and applause to the author for writing such impactful scenes, I couldn’t get past the fact that in order for Sugar to start making a transformation, the author decided to use my most hated trope imaginable; the power of love trope. It’s the trope where a character with a mental or physical disorder magically becomes better when they meet that special someone who magically makes them better. NO. I hate that trope with a passion because it’s so goddamn unrealistic. While that special someone definitely is a part of the recovery process, they aren’t the whole reason why that person gets better. It’s a combination of sheer willpower and other outside factors such as medication, therapy, and other tools (depending on the situation). Furthermore, while I liked the character of Even quite nicely, I thought he was a little too perfect. Yes, friends, there is such a thing as character who is too perfect, and Even’s one of them. He’s so nice, so sweet, so caring, so considerate, so PERFECT that it didn’t really ring true to me.

In fact, the whole ending was kind of a mess in the way it was handled. Everything in Sugar’s life was wrapped up in a neat little bow with no strings attached. It went too fast and too soon, not to mention that I questioned some of the choices she made in regards to her recovery process. While the author got the eating disorder and aspects of emotional eating right, she got the recovery process wrong in the end (despite a strong start).

I do recommend accompanying this read with a box of tissues, because this searingly heartbreaking read demands it. With a compelling main character and a (for once!) fairly accurate representation of emotional overeating, Sugar will capture your heart. However, if you don’t like the “love saves all” trope, you should probably skip this one cause it will aggravate you. I also wouldn’t recommend this if you are an emotional overeater as well, since this may be a trigger.
Profile Image for Taylor Madden.
103 reviews12 followers
June 15, 2015
This is my non-spoiler review of Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5 star sandwiches.

"I hear the bullies at school and the bully in my own mind."

1. Summary

Sugar centers around an overweight Puerto Rican-Polish girl who doesn't feel comfortable in her own skin-she goes by the name "Sugar" Legowski-Gracia and at age seventeen, has to take care of her obese mother (who cannot move from her bed) as well as her discourteous brother, Skunk. Due to her large size, Sugar constantly receives ridicule, from her classmates at school to her brother and mother. Then, when she meets Even, she gets to go through the experience of having a friendship with someone who sees her for who she is on the inside instead of the outside. Soon Sugar will have to choose whether she should do what's best for herself or her family.

2. Summarized Thoughts

Aside from some of the problems I had with some of the characters (whom I felt to be very cliche) and the writing, this book was a great eye-opener to much of the ridicule and issues overweight/obese people go through. Definitely not the best book on obesity, but a nice read nonetheless.

3. The Romance

What I liked about the relationship between Sugar and Even was the fact that they had a strong friendship before going into a romantic bond. The only negative thing I have to say about their relationship is how perfect Even seemed to be; his character developed, but it would've been nice if Even wasn't portrayed as utterly amazing from the moment his character was introduced. Other than that, I enjoyed seeing their relationship flesh out throughout the novel.

4. Cliches

When it came to the bullies in this story, they seemed very typical (especially the female characters). Some of the things they said felt like they could ripped from the script of the average high school movie. Otherwise, the bullying seemed very real and made me sympathize with Sugar immediately.

5. The Writing

The writing wasn't that impressive (which was expected, seeing it was a self-published novel), but contained quite a few eye-opening quotes that I'll look back on.

In conclusion, Sugar is a book I'd definitely recommend to anyone looking to pick up a quick story on self-image and developed relationships.

Buy it @ Amazon

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