Book Review: “Shug” by Jenny Han

Sometimes you’ll read a book that will choke you up. Rarely will I read a book that makes me flat out bawl…in a good way. Shug by Jenny Han (Alladin Mix, 2007), is one such book, and it has instantly become one of my favorite tween YA novels.  Han grabs you immediately with Shug’s authentic voice and sharp point of view.

The novel  is all about the way things change once you enter middle school, whether you are ready or not.  It starts in summer just before school starts, and already things are different. For one thing, Shug is suddenly seeing her best friend in a different and romantic light, but he doesn’t notice at all.  And then there is the whole friend thing. What do you do when your other best friend (who is a girl) suddenly befriends some popular girls, and gets a boyfriend? Where do you fit in then?  And how do you be a good person when you are sitting at the lunch table with this popular crowd, barely hanging onto the right to sit there, and another girl, who used to be your friend but also makes the popular’s eyes roll, walks by, and obviously has no one to sit with?  Do you commit social suicide and invite her, or do you avert your eyes and shut up?

Shug, by Jenny Han

Shug, by Jenny Han

Oh how well I remember those painful moments.  Shug experiences the guilt and the sadness of being on both sides of the story.  She finds herself being part of the crowd that is nasty, as well as being shunned by the nasty crowd. We’ve all experienced both sides, and at some point we all have to decide just who are we? What do we stand for? What is really important? And can we ever forgive ourselves or others for being such horrible jerks?

If you are going into middle school, read this book. If you’ve ever been through middle school, read this book.  And love this book.  It is unforgettable.

25 thoughts on “Book Review: “Shug” by Jenny Han

  1. That is wrong. This is Right

    Shug” is 248-page long realistic fiction, written by Jenny Han. This book is about a girl whose real name is Annemarie Wilcox, but nicknamed Shug because she’s sweet as sugar. This story takes place in a small town called Clementon. What happens in this book is really about changing; Shug describes life as she knows it as a twelve-year old, how everything that was once so simple, is now so complicated. Shug is the girl who never cared about what she was wearing, back-talked to the boys, and didn’t have a care in the world. Everything seemed to have changed in sixth grade, and now Shug is very self-conscious and positive she is ugly. She’s constantly thinking of her true love, Mark, and tries to hang out with the cool girls. Elaine, Shug’s best friend has a boyfriend, Hugh, and Shug is very upset that her own friend is already dating. Life is complicated, and Shug falls in love with a boy even herself didn’t expect. Shug thinks growing up is hard and horrible, but a with a little persistence, Shug soon discovers that growing up…isn’t so bad after all, and that maybe… she is beautiful. I gave this book a nine, because ever so rarely do I give tens, but this book seemed to deserve a nine. It was a great book, because it was so different. Every chapter in the book was like reading Shug’s journal, and I absolutely loved Shug’s personality. Her personality is bubbly and pleasant, and the events in the book are funny and well written. The one thing I would change about this book is how Shug’s mom isn’t around very often, as well as her hard-working dad. Perhaps relying more on her parents could’ve made Shug a little bit less stressed out. Overall, this was an enjoyable quick-read book and I would recommend it to any girl, for it’s about the true teen life

    • Hey Missraah,

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful review. I have to say that I feel BOTH of our reviews are correct. That’s the beautiful thing about fiction…it means different things to different readers. We all take away what we need to from great works. I’m thrilled that I get to hang out with author Jenny Han this upcoming weekend at the Kid Lit Festival at Aaron’s Books in Lititz, PA this weekend. Yeah!


      • I read this book about fourteen times. I practically memorized the book. i wish there was a movie coming out so I could audiion for it. I’m the talest in my grade and feel like Shug and I relate.

    • heeey, dude i loooove this book. it was amazing & most definitely the best booook i’ve read and of all timee . yeaaaah, booy. everyone should read it. umm, guys might even enjooy this fantastic book. thaaanks for writing it cause it kinda changed my liiiife. yeahh.
      byee, ! ❤

    • Hi Setara,

      I’m a young adult author, and I sometimes review books on my site that I especially love so that folks who read my novels WHAT I MEANT… or OVER MY HEAD can find other great books they might like. I know how painful homework can be, and I’m glad I don’t have to do it anymore! I’m busy writing my own novels now 🙂 So I can’t do your homework. But don’t worry, soon the day will come when you won’t have to do homework either! But for now, hang in there.


  2. i love this book, i first read it as i was entering high school in 7th grade, from then i have read it 14 times at my library so i decided to buy it myself, then i ready it another 15 times and i bawl everytime. Jenny is soo damn talented and i cant WAIT for heaps more of her books to come out.. ❤ thankyou for the brilliant reviews 🙂

      • Marie-
        I loooove Jenny’s books, but I can’t really find another author whose books I would enjoy… and yes, I have read Flipped… that story is amazing too. I just need more books to get into because, well, reading is fun!

      • Hi Abigail!

        Here are some suggested great authors you’ll probably love:
        Sue Limb
        Jodi Lynn Anderson
        Sarah Dessen
        Carolyn Mackler
        and, well, you can try my YA novels WHAT I MEANT…, OVER MY HEAD and DRAWN too.

        Marie Lamba

  3. I loved this book. Its my favorite book . & one of the best books I’ve ever read. It took me 2 days to read it. I never wanted it to end!!!! I wish there were more books like that one 🙂

  4. Jenny Han is my fav. writer my favorite book is shug i think its a book that everyone should love its a great book also the other books that jenny han writes i will recommend thos book because it reminds me of myself cuz i used to have a crush but the boy never loved me he liked me as a friend but not as a girlfriend i always used to always stare but i already hot ovee him! 😀

  5. Pingback: Book Review: It’s not Summer without You by Jenny Han « Marie Lamba, author

  6. I cried when I read shug… It only took me a few hours though! I am 13, so I can relate, but it really needs a sequel!!

  7. i just finished reading that book it made me tear up a lot! the only thing is is mark and annemarie ever going to be best friends again?

  8. We’ve all gone through these crazy love sequences (true right) I’m currently dating and loving him but also dying because of him. That’s true it needs a sequel and a movie but what really is needed is a real shug so we can ask her all these questions. Ture or crazy?
    Kevin Lover101

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