Title: Sugar and Spite
Author: Gail D. Villanueva
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Fantasy
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
Release Date: April 20, 2021
Can a bully be defeated by a magical love potion?
Jolina can’t take Claudine’s bullying any longer! The taunts and teasing are too much. Though Jolina knows she’s still in-training to use her grandfather’s arbularyo magic, she sneaks into his potions lab to get her revenge. Jolina brews a batch of gayuma, a powerful love potion.
And it works. The love potion conquers Claudine’s hateful nature. In fact, Claudine doesn’t just stop bullying Jolina — now she wants to be Jolina’s BFF, and does everything and anything Jolina asks.
But magic comes with a cost, and bad intentions beget bad returns. Controlling another person’s ability to love — or hate — will certainly have consequences. The magic demands payment, and it is about to come for Jolina in the form of a powerful storm…
Magic and reality mingle in this brilliant new middle-grade novel by Gail D. Villanueva that asks whether it’s ever okay to take away someone’s free will.
Eleven-year-old Jolina has moved with her family from the city of Manila in the Philippines to an island town to live with her grandfather. Her grandfather practices arbularyo magic, and he is teaching it to Jolina. When Jolina is bullied by Claudine, the popular, and rich, girl in her bible study class, she decides to make a love potion to make Claudine like her. Jolina has to be careful because she hasn’t made a potion like that on her own before. However, every spell and potion has consequences that Jolina will have to face during a powerful storm.
This is the first book that I’ve read that is set in the Philippines, though I’ve had many friends from there. This setting really became a character in the story. It had a vibrant description. I love it when the food from different cultures is described in books. There were a particular kind of candy, called yema balls, which played an important role in the story. There was even a recipe to make them at the end of the book, so I may have to try them!
There were some potentially triggering events at the end of the book. There was a typhoon and the death of a pet. These were emotional scenes that could be triggering to some readers, but these events were crucial to the plot.
I really enjoyed this middle grade story!
Thank you Scholastic Press and TBR and Beyond Tours for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
My Fate According to the Butterfly by Gail D. Villanueva
Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby
About the author:
Gail D. Villanueva is the author of Sugar And Spite (Scholastic, 2021). Her debut novel, My Fate According to the Butterfly (Scholastic, 2019), was named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews, an Amazon Best Book of the Month Editor’s Pick, and a NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book for Young People. Born and based in the Philippines, Gail’s daily routine includes running a web design company with her husband while trying to keep up with the shenanigans of their many pets—dogs, ducks, turtles, cats, and random birds they befriend in the backyard. Learn more at http://www.gaildvillanueva.com.
Where to buy:
Have you read Sugar and Spite? What did you think of it?