Han's heartfelt first novel persuasively expresses the woes of Annemarie "Shug" Wilcox during her first year of junior high. As the boys and girls at school start warming up to each other, flat-chested, freckle-faced Shug finds herself left out in the cold. Her best friend, Elaine, is "wrapped up" in her relationship with new boyfriend Hugh, while the boy Shug likes-longtime friend Mark-has started to act distant towards her. To add insult to injury, he asks another girl to the upcoming seventh-grade dance. Meanwhile, tensions mount in the Wilcox household as fights between Shug's parents (caused by her father's prolonged absences and her mother's drinking binges) intensify. Shug feels all alone, like she's the only seventh grader with problems, until she is assigned to tutor her nemesis, Jack, who, as it turns out, can relate to her troubles. With its distinct Southern flavor, its presentation of universal conflicts and a cast of characters sure to be recognizable to readers, this book will likely draw a wide audience. If themes are a little well worn, the author refrains from offering a conventional, sugar-coated ending that ties up all loose ends. Yet the heroine gains enough self-confidence and self-esteem to suggest that the rest of her ride through junior high will probably be less bumpy. Ages 10-14.