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.
This was a terribly hard book for me to read, not because it is poor in quality, but because of the subject matter. Sugar is weighed down not only by the excess weight she carries but also from the emotional struggle that accompanies it. I’ll be really honest with you now, I have always struggled with my weight. As I type this now I’m currently at one of the heaviest weights I have ever been at. It’s miserable. You feel like somehow you are not good enough, worth enough, or strong enough, even when logically you know that is not true.
As of late there has been much talk about teaching positive body image and body love. Learning to love our bodies and our flaws and those things that make us different. And it is wonderful, it is important. We should love the bodies we have been blessed with, even if they don’t live up to expectation. Still, it is easier to said than done.
Reading Sugar’s struggle with bullying and emotional abuse, the things that fueled the cycle of finding comfort in food, the very thing bringing more misery to her life was so, so difficult.
I think this is one of those books where if you have ever struggled with your weight, bullying, or emotional abuse this will be a hard book to read. If you have never experienced those things than hopefully this will give you a glimpse into the reality of so many people who face these struggles.
Either way, this is a book you’ll want to read when you are prepared for the serious stuff, for deep emotions (I wanted to throw the book at one point and rarely do I get that emotionally involved), and likely some tears. This book will pull at your heart and at the start you may want to put it down and walk away, but there is something very worthwhile in finishing this book. As painful as the experience might be Sugar’s story is one that should be heard and understood. And if you are ready, it will grab you and not let go.