Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall is a profound novel about a girl’s struggle with her weight and her inability to find a place in the world.
Sugar is, in her own words, “a fat Puerto Rican-Polish girl who doesn’t feel like she belongs in her own skin, or anywhere else for that matter. I’ve always been too much and yet not enough.”
Sugar has been bullied her whole life because of her weight. Whether it’s from her classmates, her brother, or even her own mother, Sugar has only known hate and shame. The guilt she feels from overeating only fans the flames of her obsession, and the vicious cycle continues.
But then Sugar meets someone who sees her for who she is and not what she looks like. Their friendship blossoms, and for the first time in her life, Sugar sees light at the end of the tunnel.
Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall is one of those books that sneaks up and hits you in the gut with its powerful truth. Those who have struggled with their weight, who have binged on junk food hoping it would cure their depression, will find a friend in Sugar Legowski-Gracia. Her self-loathing and the inescapable truth of her weight is something many of us have faced in the past.
This book may have a sweet title, but much of what happens between those two covers is anything but. Sugar’s family is one of the main perpetrators in dragging her down, regardless of the fact that they are no better off than she is. Worst yet, Sugar feels responsible for taking care of her bed-ridden mother and feels guilty for standing up for herself. Not all abuse results in bruises and broken bones.
When Sugar meets Even (yes, that’s really how you spell his name), her world becomes a brighter place. He sees past her shape and finds beauty in her smile, her laughter, her inner confidence. Sugar wants to change — and not just for Even, but for herself as well.
This book explores the realities of someone who grew up relying on food to make her feel better, who felt that she was worthless because she never had anyone else tell her differently, and who finally had enough and began to love herself for who she is.
Sugar is not easy to read. Between the nearly pornographic description of food and the cruel slanders of those who are supposed to love her, this novel will take you down the dark path Sugar is walking. But as she sees a light at the end of the tunnel, you will be reminded of hope and the importance of loving yourself first and foremost.