The narration of this novel is so deceptively mature that I'm not sure if it's written for nostalgic adults or grown-up children. The story is about AThe narration of this novel is so deceptively mature that I'm not sure if it's written for nostalgic adults or grown-up children. The story is about Annemarie Wilcox and her life as she shifts from summer into her seventh grade year. But don't be fooled! This isn't a light and fluffy coming-of-age novel. This book has some crazy depth.
Annemarie, also known as Shug, is dealing with all of the horrible territory that comes with the age of twelve. She has a crush on her best friend, who is a guy, and who barely sees her as anything other than a partner for bike rides. She is suffering the fringe treatment from girls her own age--not completely left out but not really included either. She's too tall, too outspoken, and doesn't even own a two-piece suit. All of these are strikes against her.
Underneath the typical strife of seventh grade, Shug has a layer of home troubles too. Her sister is distant. Her mother is aloof and a drunk. Her father rarely comes home and when he does, he only stays long enough to fight with his wife. One of Shug's best Thanksgiving dinners was a patch-up meal from KFC when her mom forgot to cook the turkey.
The actual subject matter of Shug isn't what sets it apart from fellow modern coming-of-age novels. What makes this novel different is the way it's told. When I was in senior English in high school, my teacher had us listen to "Wonderful" by Everclear in order to teach how to tell a story without actually telling the story. It's a more powerful story in the end if it's told by describing actions and implying the end message instead of outright stating what that message is meant to be.
Shug is all about that, right down to the last period after the last word on the last page. You don't know how bad her home life is until maybe a third of the way through the book, because she mentions little things or she'll bring up a specific event here and there. It isn't until you've collected maybe a third of the pieces that the puzzle even starts to look like a family of ducks, right? So, in that aspect... Jenny Han took home the gold. Very beautifully done.
My only problem, aside from the fact that this story broke my heart a little (and sort of made me remember lots of parts of middle school that I really wish I could forget), is that sometimes it was hard for me to tell if I could appreciate this book when I was Shug's age. I really can't tell the audience for which this was written and sometimes Shug seemed a little too wise. It is in character for her to be wiser than her years, considering the home life she has, but every once in a while... her words seemed too old, even for her. And a lot of the references made, like when Shug's friend Elaine dresses as Daisy from The Great Gatsby on Halloween, aren't ones I would expect a middle-grader to understand. So this is a lot of what confused me about the audience. But then again, maybe these things just make Shug a novel for all ages.
I think Shug is a character with which many can identify. Readers will love her from start to finish, and some of us may even know a Shug of our own. Her story is bittersweet and worth the read....more
So, this seriously cracked me up at various points throughout. My boyfriend can vouch for that as I had to keep explaining why I would erupt randomlySo, this seriously cracked me up at various points throughout. My boyfriend can vouch for that as I had to keep explaining why I would erupt randomly into hysterics.
The book follows McKay as he struggles with algebra and his introduction to girls as... well, the fascinating creatures we are rather than, you know, the gross ones boys seem to think we are up unto a point.
Any girl in middle school would love reading this, if for no other reason than to come to the realization that while some boys are just jerks and that's why they act stupidly around us, others are just trying to muster up the courage to cannon ball into the world of the opposite sex, not knowing if the reception will be warm and welcoming, or cold and uncomfortable.
McKay's concerns are so sincere; I could tell he truly liked this girl and just wanted to approach the situation as honestly as he could while still trying to hang on to a shred of his dignity. I know plenty of teens who can completely relate to his situations. Plus, the constant doses of humor add even more to the likability of Playing the Field.
Really a great book, for kids or just someone looking for a book to leave them feeling warm and fuzzy....more
This is the book that awakened my love of reading. When I was younger, elementary school age, I hated reading. It was a chore. My mom is a teacher andThis is the book that awakened my love of reading. When I was younger, elementary school age, I hated reading. It was a chore. My mom is a teacher and she would go to conferences and bring back samples of books. This was a sample she brought home one time. She gave it to me and it went straight on my floor with the rest of my junk.
One night in fourth grade I was having a fit of insomnia and I picked up this book. I read the entire thing, on a school night. I hated reading, and this book is one I couldn't put down.
One of the wonderful things about this series of books is the inclusion of many different cultures. I learned what a didgeridoo was from reading this book, and I was probably one of the few of my classmates who would have known something like that.
Reading Hannah and the Angels is a feel-good experience. Education is slid right into a book a child will enjoy reading. Wonderful, wonderful book....more