Crushes and Daydreams

Leslie Solorio, Staff Writer

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Author Jenny Han has written a memorable first novel. This easy-read is a warm story about an adorkable young girl who struggles with everyday situations, whether it’s low self-esteem, family problems, or just something like faded friendships, she somehow learns how to accomplish them all. This charismatically addictive novel will be sure to win the hearts of the readers as they too can feel same pains and awkward situations one has to deal with while growing up. The author’s voice is very impressive (being that it is her first book); it seems as if she was the same age as the kids in the story and makes everyone understand Annemarie’s side of the problem.

Twelve-year-old Annemarie Wilcox has just realized that she has crush on her best friend — not the week-long lasting crush, but a genuine kind of crush where she daydreams about first kisses and hand holding on her way home. Unfortunately, Mark (her best friend) only sees her as a sister and best friend. And even that status seems to be slipping once middle school hits Annemarie like an unexpected storm.

During the annual neighborhood summer pool party, for the first time in their friendship, Mark does not defend her against the obnoxious Jack, her natural sworn enemy. Not that Annemarie can’t put Jack in his place; it’s just that Mark has always had her back since kindergarten, until now. And then, on the first day of Junior high Mark totally blows her off and goes to the bus stop with his guy friends instead of Annemarie. Suddenly, he also seems shy to be seen with her in public. Annemarie realizes the boy she’s known since the beginning of time is changing, and she’s not happy.

Life at home is also changing. Her family and friends continue to call her Shug, short for Sugar and also a character in her momma’s favorite book. But her dad, often away on business trip, is coming home less often and acting less and less like the charming dad Annemarie has always known and loved. Her mom, not one to cook or scold her children over grades, starts drinking more and is consumed by her own world, forgetting about her family, especially Annemarie.

Fifteen-year-old Celia never minded her little sister and occasionally let her hang with, is now recently more preoccupied with her new boyfriend and also leaving Annemarie in the shadows. Then there’s the fighting. Her parents seem to be at eachothers throats making home unbearable. Annemarie dreads divorce is right around the corner. With all these terrifyingly unwanted changes occurring, Annemarie just wishes for things to go back the way they used to be.

Just like most of growing up, we were often faced with confusing times and awkward moments. Annemarie Wilcox, formerly known as Shug, suffers the pains of growing up, especially during middle school. This novel transports you into a time where you were completely vulnerable and confused, thus making the protagonist relatively charming

Not once does Han forget to incorporate her own voice into the novel. Han never fails to be vividly charming and funny. She also never fails to make the reader fall in love with her unique voice, lovable characters, and irresistible plot.

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